Young chef faq’s


We’ve put all the answers to questions that come our way each year. If you can’t find a question/answer here, then get in touch via email . 

What is Appetite for Excellence?
We are a national awards program created to assist young hospitality professionals through mentoring, educational experiences and career opportunities. Our judges assess you on your application communication, skills, creativity and overall presentation. The program has evolved to have more of a scholarship focus where every level of entry becomes involved in our educational workshops or events. It allows you to challenge yourself, create a professional peer to peer network nationwide and open career doors. All of the judges involved in the program have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and are involved in the program as they wish to see young professionals succeed in their careers and the industry.

Can I enter?
Yes, if you:

  • are 30 years of age or under as at Tuesday 07-Aug-18 you must be over 18
  • are currently working professionally within the restaurant or catering industry in Australia on a full time basis or equivalent for a minimum of 2 years
  • are currently working in an establishment that holds a liquor licence
  • have completed and hold the nationally recognised qualification of Certificate III in Hospitality – Commercial Cookery, OR have worked full time as a chef for a minimum of 2 years. If the latter you will need a written & signed reference from your current employer stating your position and length of employment
  • are not the owner, or part owner of a restaurant/hospitality business
  • are not a hospitality trainer/teacher on a casual, part time or full time basis
  • are an Australian Citizen or permanent resident – working holiday and bridging visas are not accepted
  • are able to participate in all the dates as listed on the DATES page (excluding workshops)

10 top tips from past Young Chefs
Start by reading the application carefully and thinking about your answers. It’s important that the judges can easily see that your application is well-rounded and well-thought through as they are looking at your answers as well as your menu & recipe. Ensuring that your cooking & food philosophy and innovative thinking really shine through – your application will stand a much greater chance of standing out amongst the others. The recipes need to work on paper. Take the time to devise your menu and recipes as they should inspire the judges to want to see and taste them in person and ultimately find out more about you. The judges are looking for creativity and attention to detail; a clear, well thought-out recipe with a clear, bright image helps them to be able to picture your dish at each stage of the process and on the plate – make sure they are not blurry. Do not underestimate that the menu and recipes you provide at this stage are really important – the more thought given to each, the better your chances! The judges cannot reiterate enough that this is an opportunity to show skills and creativity through your own food. Remember, creativity is not necessarily about complexity.

Read the application form

This sounds obvious, but reading the application form from start to finish will ensure you understand all the requirements. “Make sure you read it a couple of times,” recommends Hajime Horiguchi, Tanto This gives you the time to think about everything you want to say about your philosophy on food & cooking as well as your recipes.

Start your application early

Applications open in January and you can submit your application anytime from then until they close on the 09 April 2018. Aaron Ward Young Chef 2016 from sixpenny says “Don’t leave filling in your application too late. It takes time and if you are going to enter put in the effort to make it right. Starting early also means you are able to practice your dish before you submit your application. It may be easy or something you have cooked a hundred times before, but under pressure of a time limit and the judges’ eye, it’s tough.”

Ask for advice

Find a mentor, run it past your mum, dad, talk to your head chef or find one of our past finalists to talk to. Understand that there are people to support you if you have any questions. “Take your time and get as many people as you can to proof read it. Every opinion matters,” says George Tomlin, The Clove Club, London

Use spell check

Spelling errors and bad grammar look sloppy, so make sure you check your application form thoroughly. Get someone else to read it, too. Chances are, if they don’t know what you’re talking about, neither will our judges. “Ask friends or mentors to read your application and give you an honest opinion,” Thiago Miranda 2016 National Finalist from Lume

Be consistent

Your application form should reflect what you truly believe. “Anything you put down will be referenced when you speak to the judges and when you cook, so your food philosophy must be consistent with what you do,” says Jake Davey, est Restaurant.  “Also, you’ll probably be really nervous in the interviews and your application will almost be as important in portraying who you are as a person,” says Hanz Gueco, Verjus Paris

Think seasonally

You’ll need to create a seasonal menu as part of your application, so make sure you know what’s in season rather than guessing or what you think might be seasonal. “Use produce that is in its peak during autumn as you’ll get the best flavour from that ingredient. Don’t try to come up with it in an hour,” says Jake Kellie

Keep it simple

When creating your seasonal menu, remember that you may need to produce it under pressure. “Keep it simple, but still demonstrate knowledge of flavour combinations, ingredients and technique,” says Soren Lascelles, Grand Hyatt Singapore  “It should be simple enough that you are in control if you do make the cook-off. Keep your dishes focused but simple. Allow yourself the opportunity to engage with the judges” recommends Matt Binney, Merricote

Practice your dish

You need to make sure that the flavours and your dish work as 90 minutes goes really quickly in a different kitchen. Remember the judges are chefs too, so you want to make sure it work. “Make sure what you come up with is achievable within the allotted time, get as many people to try it as possible,” says  Jake Davey, est Restaurant.  Aaron Ward, sixpenny recommends “time the cooking of your dishes. There is a time limit for a reason, so make sure you can cook your dishes with in that time frame.”

Have a plan

Preparation is key when it comes to the cook-off, so go in with a clear idea of what you need to do. “Have an idea of how your plate should look, as the judges will be watching you,” says Victor Liong, Lee Ho Fook.“Have a back-up plan. Your first idea might just not work so have a plan b, or just be open minded to other options” recommends Aaron Ward.

Be confident

Even if you don’t feel it, don’t second guess yourself, but be adaptable. Victor Liong, Lee Ho Fook says, “if it doesn’t go your way, your Plan B is your Plan A.” More importantly, remember what you do know, techniques, ingredients and how to work in a kitchen. Focus on what you know, be yourself and speak from your heart.

Don’t give up

Just doing the application can help you think about where you want to be and how to get there, “Everybody should give it a go cause you’ll learn so much about yourself”, says Hanz Gueco. Didn’t make the finals last year? Try again this year. A number of our finalists and winners were successful on their second, or even third, attempt.  “Have a go – there is nothing to lose,” says Frank Fawkner, EXP Restaurant.

What are the judges looking for?
ultimately the program is here to provide a helping hand to young talent. Our judges assess you on your application communication, skills, creativity and overall presentation. Obviously your cooking skills, technique and use of ingredients are of paramount, however they are looking for the following;

  • future leaders of Australia: young chefs who show passion, integrity and commitment to their profession;
  • cooking skills and techniques: which include use of ingredients, flavour, texture and presentation
  • creativity shown through your menu – don’t forget, creativity doesn’t necessarily mean complexity
  • communication: how all of this is communicated not only on paper but also in person

I don't feel that I am ready. If I enter this and am not successful, can I enter again?
If you have been working full time in the industry for two or more years and are passionate about your job, we feel that partaking in a program such as this will do nothing but help you strengthen your skills. Some of our previous winners and finalists have entered a few times before being selected as a finalist or national finalist. This is a good opportunity to challenge yourself and think about what you want out of your career, your goals and philosophies – see here what the judges have said about entering.  We will be sending some brief feedback from the judging panel to each applicant who is not selected as a finalist, so it could be worth your while!
What do I need to provide with my application?

  • Answer all of the application questions, and provide the necessary documentation listed below; these documents and examples can be found in the ‘Chefs Forms’ tab
    1. Portrait image of yourself (this can be taken with your phone camera)
    2. Three course menu created by you with brief description of each dish
    3. Recipe 1: a main course recipe with specific ingredients as stipulated under autumn menu (section 4)
    4. Recipe 2: a dessert course recipe
    5. Main course image this can be taken with your phone camera
    6. Dessert course image this can be taken with your phone camera
    7. A copy or photo of your Certificate III in Hospitality Certificate – Commercial Cookery OR a written and signed reference from current employer
    8. A copy or photo of your current passport page with your name and date of birth
    9. If you are not Australian, a copy or photo of citizenship or current permanent residency
    10. A copy or photo of the signed employer/manager confirmation form that they are aware you are entering
  • Pay an application fee of $49.00 per applicant for administration purposes by 23:59 monday 09 April 2018 AEST
  • Submit your online application with completed answers & accompanying documentation via this form by 23:59 monday 09 April 2018 AEST
  • Be available for all of the program dates as listed in About Young Chef (excluding workshops)
  • Need to see the templates & docs ?

the dates

What equipment will be at the cook off?
We’ve placed all the equipment available to you and what you will need to provide/bring if needed state-cook-off-equipment-list

Does presentation matter?
The content contained within your application – your answers, menu and recipe – is the part the judges will concentrate on as this reflects who you are as a chef, your philosophies, skill, how your present yourself and how you communicate these. An application where you have thought about your answers, and has correct spelling and grammar, will always stand out. After all, that is what you hope to do – be well presented and stand out from the crowd. It is advisable to ask a friend or employer to read your application prior to submission and just a tip from us, know your audience, who you’re speaking to/who is reading your application. Swearing in your own kitchen might be OK, but we’d suggest to leave it there when you write your application or front up to the cook offs. Make sure to read the top tips too – click here
portrait photography: Does this need to be professional?
no. You can ask a friend or staff member to take a photo of you with your phone or camera. Your portrait photo needs to be from the waist up, in your uniform and in your current place of work. Make sure it is not blurry and has enough light so we can see you clearly as this is what we will use on the website.


Dish photography: Does this need to be professional?
No. You can use your mobile phone or a digital camera etc, but please remember your dishes must be able to be clearly seen. Blurred images or images without enough light will not be accepted. Remember – this is to show the judges your dishes, the ingredients in their finished state: and to show how you envisage your final product – they are the ones who will be making decisions about your application. You can see the examples here Dish Image Examples 
Why are there produce and time restrictions?
The produce and time restrictions are there for numerous reasons however the main reason is to provide an equal parameter/platform for all chefs to work within. The judges cannot reiterate enough that this is an opportunity to show skills and creativity through your own food. Remember, creativity is not necessarily about complexity.
Do I get feedback from the judges if I’m not selected as a finalist/state finalist?
Yes. Every applicant that isn’t selected as a finalist will receive brief feedback from the judges. If you aren’t selected as a state finalist the judges will give you feedback during your individual face to face interviews. We hope that this will provide you with a little bit of guidance for your career and encourage you to come back the following year with refreshed determination to succeed!

Why do you want to know my employers social media details?
We are here to try and support the industry as a whole and offer experiences and opportunities that you would not otherwise have access to. This also includes trying to gain more exposure for your employers business’ to be involved in the program by acknowledging your place of employment/restaurant. A few of these include: as a state finalist

  • Your profile & your employers business feature on our website with a direct link to their restaurant website
  • You & your employers business will be announced in our press releases to all state & national media
  • We engage with you & your employers place of business through our social media communications platforms
  • We invite you to participate in our educational workshops

as a national finalist

  • You & your employers business will be announced in our press releases to state & national media
  • We engage with you & your employers place of business through our social media communications platforms
  • We can provide a press release to your employer to send out to their press contacts
  • We invite you to participate in our educational workshops
  • We invite national finalists employers to the awards night on Monday 06 August 2018 so they can participate in industry networking on a national scale

My employer is worried about the time I’ll be away if I’m successful…
The program is designed to fit around the quieter months in hospitality as we are extremely conscious of both your time and your employers staffing requirements in your absence. your time away from work will, of course, depend on the extent of your involvement in the program.

  • The application 6 hours:  (approx.) To complete your application depending on how much you can do at any one time. We recommend that you write a draft of your application answers, then a week later look at the answers again to finalise them
  • Finalist + 1 day/1 night:  if your application is selected, you will be required for approximately 1 day/1 night judging in Sydney to select 2-3 state finalists
  • State finalist + 2-3 days: if selected as a state finalist, you will be required for judging and events spanning approximately 2-3 days (all states) in Sydney
  • National finalist + 5-6 days: if selected as a national finalist, you will be required for mandatory judging/ events for approximately 5-6 days in total (includes Produce Tour & Awards Evening)

We provide you with sufficient lead time to be able to arrange these dates with your employer, so you are able to get the most out of your involvement in the program. To get a better overview of the different stages of the program, please read the 2018 dates here

I don’t have a computer and I’m not very good at using them...
If you don’t have a computer, perhaps you know someone that can help you? Your friend, girl/boyfriend, family member, boss or colleague. If you are using different computers or devices (tablet etc) you can save all the images & documents in the application and ‘save and progress’. Your profile will keep all answers, images & documents. Or, you can download ‘dropbox’ onto your mobile phone, computer or tablet. You can store images and/or documents here and access them from either your phone or any computer by signing in. Otherwise, make sure that you have a USB key (memory stick) with all your documents and/or images on file to upload if using a friend or works computer. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to ask for any advice – we are here to help!
How do we send copies of our certificate III, employers doc, passport etc?
Scan a copy or take a photo of your Certificate III, drivers licence and passport as individual documents or images. You can use your mobile or digital camera for photos. Each of these copies will need to be uploaded into the application form. If  you are taking photos, you need to make sure that the words can be clearly read and is not out of focus. If you can’t read it, neither can we. Please make sure you take notice of the file size – no more than 5MB for each one!
I don’t have a scanner…?
If you don’t have access to a scanner at work, you can use your mobile phone or digital camera to take individual photo’s / images of all documents. However, you will need to make sure that the words can be clearly read and is not out of focus and has enough light. If you can’t read it, neither can we. Please make sure you take notice of the file size – no more than 5MB for each one!
Why do I need to supply a copy of my passport?
To prove that a) you are an Australian resident or citizen; b) Your date of birth & c)That you are who you say you are!
What does it cost to enter?
there is a one-off application fee of $49.00 per application. Only one application per person will be accepted.
How can I pay?
via EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) direct into our bank account Bank: ANZ Account Name: Young Chef of the Year Pty Ltd BSB: 012-010 Account Number: 200 425 409 Please quote as a reference ie: YC (your first name and last name) ie. YC JohnSmith or you can by credit card by clicking the link when submitting your application online

The rules (Terms & Conditions)