Rhys Connell (from Bacchus Restaurant) and Alex Hunter (from Beltree) have won the New South Wales cook-off in the 2012 Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award, securing themselves an all-expenses-paid trip to Melbourne, during Fine Food Week in September, to compete in the National Final.

Going head-to-head with nine other young chef teams in a cook-off challenge held in state-of-the-art facilities at William Angliss Industry Training Centre kitchens, the two talented apprentices were up against some tough competition including chefs from Quay, Restaurant Assiette, Jamie’s Italian and Bathers Pavilion.

The two Novocastrians have been firm friends through school, and after placing 1st and 2nd against each other in their last culinary competition attempt, decided to pair up and work together in yesterday’s cook-off challenge.

William Angliss Industry Training Centre Operations & Training Manager, Naomi Crawford comments:

“William Angliss is proud to host culinary competitions of this calibre as we believe it vital to the professional development of our future industry leaders. Competing is all about gaining experience and the knowledge of what works in a pressured environment. Going up against your peers and seeing what other chefs at your level are creating has a very positive impact on your skills as a chef and I know all of the competitors have increased their working knowledge.”

Using only the ingredients available to them on the day, competing teams had to create a sumptuous three-course meal to impress the judging panel, including Nestlé chefs, WACS internationally approved judges and members of the Australian Culinary Federation.

Rhys and Alex impressed, producing an entrée course of Barramundi Brassica with potato, turnip, avocado, pickle and rice bubbles. Main course was a beef rump cap served with kumara, leek, mushroom and endive. For dessert the pair produced a ‘Bombe’ with ginger, milk, honey and lemon.

The Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award is dedicated to the development of apprentice chefs and is the longest running and only national competition that tests culinary cooking skills at a regional level, right through to a National Final cook-off.

Aspiring young chefs get to put themselves up against their peers and benchmark their skills to really find out where they’re at as a chef. To help them take their cooking skills to the next level, they are mentored along the way by professional chefs and culinary instructors.

This year the two young chefs named the national winners will be awarded an international prize trip, worth $15,000, to the 2012 Culinary Olympics in Germany where they will get the chance to do work experience and be mentored by Team Australia.

With the first event held in 1966, the Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award is the longest running sponsorship for Nestlé Professional. The annual competition is run in partnership with the Australian Culinary Federation and supported by Meat & Livestock Australia, Humpty Doo Barramundi and Robot Coupe.

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