Electrolux Australian Young Chef state finalists announced

Firstly, we would like to acknowledge every chef who entered this year, followed by those that came to Sydney to cook and meet our judges over the last two days. It was an absolute pleasure to meet the finalists – all of whom have a wonderful outlook, are individually talented and passionately committed to their careers. The standard was incredibly high and exciting to see the breadth of talent from around the country.

After reviewing all of the dishes, meeting with all of the chefs to learn more about them, our judges have made their selections below. Click on their names to read and learn more about them!

2016 electrolux australian young chef state finalists

Aaron Ward Sixpenny nsw
Braden White The Apo qld
Cameron Jones Red Cabbage Food + Wine wa
Chris Howard The Freycinet Lodge tas
Jordan Monkhouse Aria Brisbane qld
Liz Edney One Penny Red nsw
Mal Meiers Fatto Bar & Cantina vic
Nick Gannaway The Bridge Room nsw
Phillip Roberts Eschalot Restaurant nsw
Shayne Mansfield The Long Apron qld
Thiago Miranda Church Street Enoteca vic
Troy Crisante Bennelong Restaurant nsw
Zackary Furst IDES vic


keeping it local, but not for long

by Lilani Goonesena

It is freezing in the dark morning on the shores of Port Phillip Bay, just off the Bass Strait south of Melbourne, Victoria. We are wrapped in so many layers it’s difficult to turn our heads or grip the sides of the charter boat that takes us out on the bay. We are following Ben Jenkins, a 22-year old local fisherman for his 5-generation family fishing business, Jenkins and Son.

We are joined on the boat by Johnathon Davey, the Executive Director of Seafood Industry Victoria, who explains how commercial net fishing operates in the bay.

“There are 43 commercial licenses in Port Phillip, 42 of which can use four different types of net fishing, as well as long line fishing, pots and traps. There’s one license solely for purse seine fishing which uses a net with an anchor, for small fish such as pilchers, sardines, whitebait and anchovies.”

Jenkins and Sons operate under a netting license. Every night, usually starting at 1am, they fish these waters. They finish at 5am and are at the market by 6am. They’re making an exception today for us and we watch as their boat makes a wide circle, trailing 160m of netting behind it. Then comes the slow process of winching it in again.

“The fish congregate in the sea grass,” Johnathon tells us. “The net drags along the bottom and cleans the moss off the grass without tearing it out.”

The bay covers almost 2,000 square kilometres and its varied species include tuna, flathead, whiting, southern garfish, flounder, red mullet, tommy ruff, pike, shark (flake), and salmon. There are also brown, green and black abalone, though along with lobster and crab, they are fished by recreational rather than commercial fishermen. There is, however, a flourishing hand dive scallop industry.

Jenkins & Sons


“Traditionally, there were scallop dredges in the bay,” explains Johnathon. “But the industry was closed in 1999. Then, in 2013, the government brought in a hand dive scallop license. In 2015, it allowed a 145 tonne catch. That’s only going to grow and there are already big supply deals with restaurants.”

The decommission of the “archaic” scallop industry was a vast environmental improvement but also paved the way for new, introduced species. The bay is now suffering from marine pests like the Japanese Undaria which can attach to any surface. The ballast waters from the hulls of international ships have also brought in exotic sea stars and Sabella worms. In 2014, there were an estimated 60 million Northern Pacific Sea Stars in the bay.

Sea urchin are another introduced species but one that are proving a commercial success with profitable export markets in China and Japan.

Johnathon says that the bay is cleaner now than it has been cleaner in 15-20 years, with fish stocks at record highs.

From the look of today’s catch this morning, it’s true. The morning sun is well in the sky by the time the net is winched in to the side of the boat. Ben Jenkins, clad in a long-sleeved wetsuit, has jumped into waist-deep, icy cold water to sort the fish by hand.

“The fish are sorted in the water so they’re not stressed,” explains Johnathon. “There’s almost zero by-catch because they’re released alive. The efficiency of net fishing, live fishing, that has to be the best.”

Matt Binney, the 2015 Highly Commended Young Chef, and sous chef at Merricote in Melbourne, agrees.

“I thought there would be more by-catch but the amount of fish they released was exceptional,” he says. “ The process, netting and gathering by hand, it’s such a small operation but they have so much passion for it. They can provide a sustainable, high quality and manageable product for restaurants.”

The fishermen are moving fast, holding each fish against a board to check its legal size before tossing it into the boat, or the bay again.

“Everything’s maintained live until they decide it’s legal size and of market value,” Johnathon tells us. “Then it goes into bins full of ice. The fish go straight to sleep in there, it’s like a hibernation. They are live until the buyer buys them. For some of the bigger fish, like tuna, they do the iki-jime [spiking] straight into the brain; this keeps the meat as red and fresh as possible.”

Fisheries Victoria monitor commercial fishing regularly, with daily logbooks on where fishing takes place, the catch, species, conditions, by-catch, and other statistics. This has to match the sales records at the market. As well, fishery compliance officers visit the bay.

The information also assists research into fish species and sustainability. Snapper, calamari and whiting, for example, have all been labelled sustainable.

In the wake of the Victorian government’s plan to close Port Phillip’s commercial netting in favour of recreational fishing by 2022, Johnathon worries that it will be harder to keep track of species. He also says that consumer choice and availability will suffer.

“I can only assume there will be more of a reliance on imports or other states,” Johnathon tells us. At the moment Australia imports 70% of our seafood; we could end up at 85% imported.”




eat/drink south australia with Dan Moss

Where do you go for coffee before work/after work/not at work?

Abbots and Kinney on Pirie St in Adelaide is the best going around.  They have delish pastries and ripping coffee.  Jonny Pisanelli is a young man doing all the right things.  Lucia’s in the Central Markets in South Australia offers a traditional Italian approach, great for people watching.  It is high energy, just the spot before hitting the markets in the morning.  Bar 9 in Central South Australia is a great atmosphere, service and fit out.  Tempting hangover food offerings also.

Favourite places for breakfast and brunch?

Zest Café always has something interesting and is in a great location.  It is a must when down the Bay.  Bar 9 in Parkside is the complete Café package.  Coffee nerd hot spot and really good grub on offer too.  West Beach Surf Club offers breakfast on a Sunday morning with a fresh smoothie, watching the waves roll in – very relaxing environment.

Favourite restaurants in your home state for special occasions?

Penfolds Magill Estate in South Australia has innovation in one of the smartest dining rooms.  It is a South Australian icon.  Africola in Adelaide is an exciting place to eat and drink.  There is brilliant staff and a fantastic concept – a must.  Peel St in the middle of Adelaide CBD has a constantly changing menu executed well, wine you want to drink now and a great fit out.

Best bars to head to after work and on your days off?

Super drinkable cocktails & boutique beers at the Clever Little Tailor in South Australia is a hot spot and rightfully so.  Seed Wine House + Kitchen in South Australia offers moreish bar snacks, great options by the glass and the best bar in the Valley.  The Exeter in South Australia is one of the best pints in town.  With a constantly changing wine list, there is no fuss fun in the Rundle street sun.

Where do you go for fresh, seasonal produce and market bargains?

Adelaide Central Markets is literal food heaven with everything on offer, a real treat and very lucky to have in Adelaide.  Barossa Farmers Market is the best regional market in the state, beautiful setting, producers that care and love their products.  Sevenhill Producers Market is small but warming market in the Clare Valley.  Check out Doug Slugget’s stall for the good stuff.

Where have you had the best interstate dining experiences?

Ethos is my favourite spot in Tassie.  Cutting edge operation offering the best that the Apple Isle has to offer, knowledgeable staff that are really good at their job, with food to match.  Chin Chin in Melbourne is just an absolute cracker of a setup, warming space that you just want to eat at all day long.  Leave it in the staff’s hands and go the ‘Feed me’ option… best way to tackle the Melbourne CBD.  El Publico in Perth is a tequila bar, with super tasty food to share with friends in a buzzing atmosphere, in the best part of town. What’s not to love about El Publico?


what hospitality means to Simon Denton

 by Dominic Rolfe

What does the word hospitality mean to you and how has it changed since you started?

Hospitality for me is basically looking after people. I’m a front of house person and it’s about ensuring people enjoy their experience. And the idea of service is to serve people and make them feel good.

I think it’s definitely become more professional over the time I’ve been doing it. But the first guys I worked for, three Greek guys, had the best sense of hospitality I’ve ever come across. They weren’t trying to be too cool or too anything, they just knew how to charm people, how to read people and to take every customer on their merit.

Did you have a mentor?

Apart from the three guys I worked with at the Greek restaurant, there’s [fellow Appetite for Excellence judge] Peter Sullivan. I worked for him a while back and probably at a time when my attitude was waning but he just re-inspired me with his sense of genuine hospitality and wanting to look after people and being passionate about it all the time. It was infectious. He was just on 100 percent of the time. He wasn’t telling me how to do stuff, he was showing me how it should be.

What was the goal when you opened and is it different now?

When I was younger, it was just being as good as I could at what I did. But then came the realisation that I wanted to take things as far as I could go. And my restaurants are very personal – they’re places that I’d want to go. The goal was just to open a restaurant but as with most young people, I wanted to do it too quickly. However, the extra time it took was a good thing because experience was very important.

I’ve got three restaurants now but I’m wondering if I shouldn’t just go back to one and keep it a bit more pure and get some more balance with family life. As you get older, that becomes more important. And part of what I enjoy is that interaction with customers and staff – with three restaurants, that becomes harder.

Do you have a piece of advice for current front of house professionals starting out? Did you have a piece of advice that you’ve carried through?

Don’t be robotic about what you do; you have to think about every customer. Social intelligence is the biggest thing. You can get highly skilled hospitality people but they don’t have social intelligence. I always tell my staff that I want them to be thinking all the time, don’t just go through the motions.

I think people also need to know you work hard and it doesn’t get easier. If you think it’s hard now, wait till later! But you have to enjoy what you’re doing. I look back and think I should have relaxed a little bit more. Make sure it’s something that you really want to do.




culinary talent announced for 2016

After a month of deliberations, we are excited to announce the results. The selected young culinary talent have had their applications reviewed and now face a series of skills testing and interviews with the judges; Christine Manfield, Peter Gilmore, Luke Mangan, Danielle Gjestland, David Pynt, Lisa van Haandel, Guy Grossi to name but a few of the heavyweights of the Australian hospitality industry. Follow their progress here on our website,  Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds.

2016 electrolux australian young restaurateur national finalists

Cameron Cansdell bombini nsw
Dave Parker San Telmo & Pastuso vic
Kelvin Shaw Altair Restaurant vic


 2016 electrolux australian young waiter state finalists

Andrew Day AKIBA act
Chayse Bertoncello O.MY Restaurant vic
Dylan Labuschagne Stillwater/Black Cow Bistro tas
George Papaioannou Luxembourg Bar & Bistro vic
Imogen Clarke Restaurant Orana sa
Katrina Lee Panama Dining Room and Bar vic
Mia McIntyre Michels Restaurant qld
Morgan Golledge Blackbird Bar & Grill qld
Natasha Janetzki Blackbird Bar & Grill qld
Rory McCallum Supernormal vic


2016 electrolux australian young chef finalists

Aaron Ward Sixpenny nsw
Andre Mcloughlin The Royal Mail Hotel vic
Braden White The Apo qld
Cameron Jones Red Cabbage Food + Wine wa
Chris Howard The Freycinet Lodge tas
Cody McKavanagh Biota Dining nsw
Joanne Cross Cucina Vivo qld
Jordan Monkhouse Aria Brisbane qld
Joshua Gregory EXP Restaurant nsw
Kahwai Lo Matteo’s vic
Liz Edney One Penny Red nsw
Louise Brown Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove vic
Mal Meiers Fatto Bar & Cantina vic
Mark Glenn Dinner by Heston vic
Mathew Lee Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre qld
Matt Binney Merricote vic
Matthew Hammond Elyros Restaurant vic
Michael Conlon Blackbird Bar & Grill qld
Nichole Horvath Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio vic
Nick Gannaway The Bridge Room nsw
Phillip Roberts Eschalot Restaurant nsw
Sean Glatt Petite Mort wa
Sean Hillier Muse Restaurant nsw
Sean Townsend Muse Kitchen nsw
Shayne Mansfield The Long Apron qld
Shohei Kishishita Coast Restaurant & Bar qld
Thiago Miranda Church Street Enoteca vic
Thomas Smith Bistro Guillaume vic
Troy Crisante Bennelong Restaurant nsw
Zackary Furst IDES vic