This year, we held our awards night on Monday 14 August on the iconic sands of Noosa beach, on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast – as a BBQ Beach Party, catered by Australia’s best young chefs using the best Queensland produce, under the glittering stars of Noosa.

We showcased & celebrated the quality, diversity and unique talent of the next generation of Australian hospitality leaders – our national finalists. Each of these 17 individuals are an integral part of the future whom will be driving and contributing to the Australian culinary landscape. As part of the future, it’s important to support and look after the next generation – no matter what stage they are in their career. Not only in our businesses, but through mentoring, management and thinking ensuring a network of people they can turn to both professionally & personally. This is part of the ethos that the program creates for all of our alumni, which is our community. A community made up of industry people that the next generation can tap into for career advice, support and personal help.

It’s an important award for the young food scene, offering support for the development of new talent, the chance to make contacts across the industry and to celebrate the next generation of industry talent.  Across a number of weeks young chefs take part in cooking exercises (including mystery box challenges), young waiters demonstrate their service and knowledge skills, and young restaurateurs are quizzed on every aspect of their business. To make the finals is no mean feat and these really are the faces to watch across the industry, with winners recognised as the next generation of industry leaders who will be changing the culinary landscape.

Each and every one of our national finalists are talented in their own right and should take a bow! The overall winners to be celebrated are:

  • Electrolux Australian Young Restaurateur 2017:  Thi Le, Anchovy VIC
  • Electrolux Australian Young Waiter 2017: Andrew Gale, Grossi Florentino VIC
  • Electrolux Australian Young Waiter (Dual) Runners Up 2017: George Papaioannou, Sixpenny NSW & James Boden, St Hugo SA
  • Electrolux Australian Young Chef 2017: Shui Ishizaka, Bennelong NSW
  • Electrolux Australian Young Chef Runner Up 2017: Alanna Sapwell, Saint Peter NSW
Cam O’KeefeDan MossErinn JordanThi Le (Winner)
CENTRA, VICTerroir Aubrun, SAThe CatBird Seat, QLDAnchovy, VIC
Erinn 005Thi Le Anchovy 004
Andrew Gale, WinnerGeorge Papaioannou (Runner Up)James Boden (Runner Up)Lara Graham
Grossi Florentino, VICSixpenny, NSWSt Hugo, SAWasabi Restaurant & Bar, QLD
Andrew Gale 004GEORGE PAPAIOANNOU 001James Boden 004Lara Graham 004
Mia McIntyreMorgan GolledgeRichard Trezzi
e’cco bistro QLDBlackbird Restaurant & Bar QLDOtto, NSW
Mia McIntyre 001Morgan Golledge 001Richard Trezzi 003BLANK
Adrian Hart Alanna Sapwell (Runner Up)Ben McShaneCharley Snadden-Wilson
Bennelong NSWSaint Peter NSWKiyomi QLDEmbla VIC
Adrian Hart 001Alanna Sapwell 003Ben McShane 003Charly Snadden-Wilson 003

Josh RaineShui Ishizaka (Winner)
Urbane QLDBennelong NSW
Josh Raine 003BLANKBLANK


Congratulations to all of our national finalists for being exceptional people and we look forward to see them grow in the future.



what does hospitality mean to Danielle Gjestland?

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

Hospitality means being in the moment with your client and your staff, taking the time to really be engaged, gracious and generous with your time. I think that’s really important from both a staff and client point of view.

The hospitality industry is less rigid than it used to be and the definition of great service in hospitality has shifted a little bit in that it can be more casual but still considered to be fantastic service and thus a fantastic restaurant, without being stiff.  Generally, people want to feel special and I think that can happen in formal and informal environments.

I also think the client is now much more educated and knowledgeable about food in general, about service, and has a much broader opinion about what that means to them. They have clear expectations of a restaurant experience.

Did you have a mentor?

We’re pretty out of the way [in Noosa] and I was really young when I started so I didn’t really have a mentor. So for me, because I was so young, I learnt a lot from my staff. A lot of people that I hired had more experience in the industry and I was open to that. I still find I am always learning from the people around me.

I think that when you’re young – as a waiter, restaurateur or chef – you have to be open to learning from other people to advance. You can’t let your ego get in the way. I’ve garnered a lot of great skill, knowledge and technique from my peers over the years, from people who have been really generous with their knowledge.

In financial terms, the man who is now my husband, was a great help.  He has a finance background and helped me to quickly learn that getting your financial house in order is key. If you can’t make your balance sheet work, you can be the best restaurant in town but you’ll be broke in a year. That mental shift is really important. When you are starting out, you know it’s really important to invest in your business, and it is. But you have to learn to assess if the cost of the item is going to give you a return – ie is spending the money going to make you more money? If I didn’t have somebody who was much more experienced financially, who pushed me to answer the hard questions, I wouldn’t be here today!

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

The goal when we opened wasn’t to be a two-hat, regional restaurant of the year at all. In the first year, it was all about survival. At the time I just wanted to do something that I was proud of and my clients were proud to have in their little town. And that was enough.

As a result of that, we’ve ended up where we are. And each year we try to improve on that by making our clients happier and that’s resulted in a better restaurant. But it’s been a process of chipping away at it. We didn’t open 13 years ago the restaurant we are today.

I’m not a person with grand desires to take over the restaurant world. My nature is more hone and refine; I’m really happy with my lot and focusing on that. We’ve expanded in that we now run a farm where a lot of our produce comes from and we have just launched The Cooking School Noosa and Ibento Boutique Event Space. When we opened I would not have thought of starting a cooking school but these new businesses have come on line because they are a logical extension of what we already do and help us communicate our message to a broader market.

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

“Time to lean, time to clean! – share it with all your staff” But seriously, I’d say that there’s no room for show-ponying in a successful business, just leave your ego at the door, get in and get the job done. There’s no room for nonsense.

I’d also tell people to get involved as much as you possibly can, to draw information from as many people as you can using the channels that are open to you. The more you know, the more capable you will be of really understanding your business and your clients.

Finally, never lose touch with what it is that makes your clients happy. Without clients, without happy clients, you don’t have a business.




Young Waiter & Young Chef National Finalists 2016

We’ve had the pleasure over the last few weeks to meet some wonderfully talented young waiters & chef’s who were selected to take part in national judging for Electrolux Australian Young Waiter & Young Chef 2016. It’s not all judging, there has been masterclasses, industry talks with the judges about hospitality as an industry & career and casual networking dinners. Each and every chef and waiter involved should be incredibly proud of themselves for their passion and commitment shown. After a few days of  judging, we are pleased to announce the National Finalist’s in each category.


2016 electrolux australian young waiter national finalists

Andrew Day AKIBA act
Dylan Labuschagne Stillwater/Black Cow Bistro tas
George Papaioannou Luxembourg Bar & Bistro vic
Morgan Golledge Blackbird Bar & Grill qld
Natasha Janetzki Blackbird Bar & Grill qld
Rory McCallum Supernormal vic


2016 electrolux australian young chef national finalists

Aaron Ward sixpenny nsw
Jordan Monkhouse Aria Brisbane qld
Mal Meiers Fatto Bar & Cantina vic
Nick Gannaway The Bridge Room nsw
Thiago Miranda Church Street Enoteca vic
Troy Crisante Bennelong Restaurant nsw
Zackary Furst IDES vic



2016 electrolux australian young restaurateur national finalists

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



Small Chef Group 002 Small Waiter Group Photos 008Follow their progress and for the announcement of the Australian Young Waiter; Young Chef & Young Restaurateur of the Year on the 08 August 2016



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


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





Courtney Nichols – eat/drink brisbane

Courtney Nichols, restaurant supervisor at The Balfour Kitchen in Brisbane shares her favourite places for great eat/drink experiences in her home state of Queensland!

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

Coffee is always great at the Three Little Monkeys in West End.  This place is deceivingly huge with so many different options for seating.   The Emporium Barber inFortitude Valley boasts amazing tasting coffee, quick service and quirky staff.  Plus what a unique idea, having it combined with a barber!  Elements Sunshine Coast is great for high tea and has a beautiful view.

Favourite places for breakfast and brunch?

Avalanche in Fortitude Valley has fresh, healthy, natural foods and a team that are always so accommodating and friendly.   Chop Chop Changs in West End offers fresh food which is full of flavour.  The Little Larder in New Farm has friendly staff, innovative food and a resident chicken called Pumpkin that the chef comes out to feed with the leftovers!

Favourite restaurants in your home state for special occasions?

The design of flavours and textures behind every dish of Cams at The Long Apron in Montville is so interesting and the option to have perfectly matched wines is a bonus.  Gerard’s Bistro in New Farm is great for dining in groups so make use of the share plate options.  At the Lilly Pad in Cairns, the menu is innovative, the food is always fresh and staff are quirky and friendly.

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

The Elixir in Brisbane has a great atmosphere, rooftop bar with mini gazebos and greenery with fairy lights wrapped through.  Bar tenders are really knowledgeable and always stock great products.  Papa Jacks offers tasty cocktails.  They make all their own spices and syrups to use in them.  I also would head to Cloudland, purely because this venue is an absolute work of art.

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

Eat Street Markets has a funky atmosphere and wide selection of quirky snacks to try.  Newfarm Markets is great if you are after fresh produce.  Eumundi Markets boasts beautiful produce and food to try, especially the frozen mango cups on a hot day!

And finally, where have you had the best interstate dining experiences?

Zanzibar Kingscliff has a funky vibe and friendly staff.  Everything is made fresh and the flavours are zippy!  The Thievery in NSW has a quirky setting with personable staff and innovative food.  Mr Wong also in Sydney offers classic Chinese cuisine with a modern twist.

See where else to eat & drink around the country:


Kim Galea – eat & drink insider knowledge

See where else to eat & drink around the country:

Kim Galea is one of our Young Restaurateur national finalists of 2015 and is the co-owner of Pitchfork Restaurant  in Peregian Beach. Kim shares her favourite places for great eat & drink experiences on the Sunshine Coast!

favourite coffee shops

Tim Adams Lamkin Lane, Caloundra

Specialty roaster, brilliant coffee

Skal Coffee, Peregian Beach

Great local crew, fantastic coffee

Costa Noosa, Sunshine Beach

Great Noosa Icon

favourite eateries/cafes

Gunshop Café, Brisbane

Best breakfasts ever!

Gaston, Noosa

Easy going, good food and bar

Maison de Provence, Cooroy

Delicious French treats

favourite restaurants

Spirit House, Yandina,

Beautiful location never fails to impress

Spice Bar, Mooloolaba,

Great food, great service

Ricky’s, Noosa,

Top location, great service

favourite bars

Solbar, Maroochydoore

Live music

Flux, Noosaville,

More of a restaurant, but makes a big effort on craft beer

Woolly Mammoth Alehouse, Fortitude Valley


favourite food markets and/or local grocers

Yandina Market

Local, fresh quality veg

Noosa Farmers Market

Nice products

Fishermans Road Sunday Market, Mooloolaba

favourite interstate restaurants

Movida, Melbourne

Awesome food, reasonably priced, never fails

Bar Lourinha, Melbourne,

Great Atmosphere, tapas and cocktails

Bei Amici, Sydney

Small neighbourhood bistro, great food


After a month of reviewing the young, up & coming culinary talent across Australia, we can reveal the results.  These young restaurateurs, waiters & chefs national finalists have a series of interviews & skills testing with some of Australia’s hospitality heavyweights. Judges such as Christine Manfield, Danielle Gjestland, David Thompson, Duncan Welgemoed, James Viles, Luke Mangan, Mark Best & Simon Denton to name but a few. Follow their progress on our website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feed.

Electrolux Australian Young Restaurateur National Finalists

click on the headline to see their profiles

Bianca Welsh: Stillwater Restaurant & Black Cow Bistro, Tasmania
Chris Thornton: Restaurant Mason, New South Wales
Dan Moss: Terroir Auburn, South Australia
Joel Best: Bondi’s Best, New South Wales
Kim Galea: Pitchfork Restaurant, Queensland

Electrolux Australian young waiter state finalists

Brooke Adey: Bentley Restaurant & Bar, New South Wales
Courtney Nichols: The Balfour Kitchen, Queensland
Elizabeth Thomas: Supernormal, Victoria
Jessica Thorley: Biota Dining,New South Wales
Louise NaimoEstelle Bistro, Victoria
Nikki FriedliAfricola, South Australia
Robert LuoOscillate Wildly, New South Wales

Electrolux Australian young chef finalists

Aaron Starling: Bistro Guillaume,Victoria
Ben McShane: Kiyomi, Queensland
Jake Kellie: Estelle Bistro, Victoria
Jordan McLeod: Set Piece, New South Wales
Joshua Gregory: Biota Dining, New South Wales
Khahn Nguyen: Mr Wong, New South Wales
Matt  Binney: Merricote, Victoria

Danielle Gjestland, following your passion

written by Dominic Rolfe

A couple of years ago, Danielle Gjestland stood watching her father and husband argue about how the trench on their new farm should be dug. When they reached the point of refusing to talk to each other, the sinewy blonde hitched a trailer to the car, hired a trench-digger having never used heavy machinery before and returned to rip up the soil herself under the stunned gaze of her family.

But while her determination had finally got some dirt moving for the farm they were using to grow produce for her Noosa-based restaurant, Wasabi, Gjestland then encountered a second, more intractable problem – her pale skin was being scorched by the Queensland sun. Unable to hop off the machine mid-dig to grab some sunscreen, she was forced to improvise. “With the water in my bottle,” says Gjestland, “I made a puddle of mud and then covered myself in mud to stop myself getting sunburnt. When I came in from the paddock, I was covered neck-to-toe in red clay. But it worked beautifully!”

Gjestland’s story is one of doggedness married with an occasionally  unconventional approach. “I might get myself into some strange situations,” she says, “but I’m determined to get out of them myself. And you need a little bit of madness to make it work. Last night I was planting by the light of three moon lanterns. It’s a brilliant idea. For my next big project, no way am I doing it in the middle of the day!”

From humble beginnings in 2003, Wasabi, where Gjestland still works six days a week in addition to her time at the farm, has now earned two chefs hats in the Queensland Good Food Guide for two years running and was named best regional restaurant in that guide in 2014. It was also the number one restaurant in Queensland on The Australian’s Hot 50 List where the judges wrote that it was “Surely Australia’s best Japanese food.” She has also had finalists in both the Electrolux Appetite for Excellence young waiter and young chef of the year.

Gjestland wasn’t a restaurateur when she started the restaurant, and she wasn’t a farmer when she started the farm. This is, however, a story of following one’s passion. “If you love doing it enough, it’ll work out,” she says before adding with a laugh, “well, that’s what’s meant to happen right? Even when people are looking at you with one eyebrow raised!”

At school, where she met two Japanese exchange students, Gjestland developed an interest in Japan and Japanese food culture, and began studying Japanese externally. After school, she studied hospitality and tourism management, landed a job on the front desk of luxury Mayfair hotel, Claridges and returned to Sunshine Beach with an idea to open a Japanese restaurant.

So, at just 24 years of age, she dove headlong into the deep end. “It might be the arrogance of youth but I did think I could open a restaurant focusing solely on a culture that not’s my own! It worked out in the end but without the combination of a lot of hard work, grit, determination and luck, it could so easily not have. I am a little bit of the mind that I’m going to do this and that’s what’s going to happen.”

That determination was tested early on when they’d taken the lease on an abandoned restaurant. Enlisting her family and friends, they scrubbed the place from top to toe, wire racks, cool rooms, the lot. Then tradies arrived to sand back the terracotta tiles. “I came back to find the entire place, every crack, every corner, coated with terracotta dust,” she says. “I only had a week and a half till opening. It was an awful moment. If someone had filled my head with everything I know now and then said, ‘Now decide if you want to open up a restaurant’, I’d just say, ‘really, is it going to be that hard’? But it’s all been totally worth it.”

In over a decade they’ve gone from having to explain what wasabi is and that sashimi shouldn’t be sent back to the kitchen for searing, to clients asking where the tuna belly comes from. And now the kitchen is able to use produce grown at the farm to give new experiences to diners, from species of ginger where the stem is eaten before it emerges to fresh daikon radishes. “You couldn’t buy the leaves here so we planted them,” says Gjestland, “And the flavour that you get from this really dainty little purple daikon flower are really peppery and pack a really big punch, almost a wasabi heat. So then I pick them all and take it into the kitchen and say try that.”

And while the farm has caused Gjestland to wonder more than once what the hell she’s undertaken, it is at least a place where she can continue to express her determination and personal touch of madness. “Recently, I squeezed myself down through the top of an old tank that needed repairing in the middle to the day,” she says, “The patching stuff that Dad gave me, I’m sure made me high. Then as I’m climbing out, my husband took a photo where all you can see is an arm emerging covered in green slime with a diamond ring glinting in the sunshine. He reckons that sums me up perfectly!”

There have been opportunities to expand, to translate Wasabi into the big city scene. But Gjestland is mostly unmoved. “I’m the kind of person who likes to chip away and refine something,” she says. “I’ve had offers to do something bigger and it’s really exciting when you’re looking at sites but at the end of it all, what do I want? I want a 12-seater restaurant. I want to get smaller not bigger. I don’t have ambitions of grandeur, with more stuff and more people. I just want to make what we do a bit better each day.”