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23-year-old Apprentice Chef Wins 2011 Nestle Golden Chef’s Hat Award

All culinary aspirants would love to wear a legitimate chef hat one day. Not a hat worn as a trainee, or one that’s just for apprentices or culinary interns—a real toque that signifies his position in his own kitchen. And that reality is not so far anymore for this year’s winners of the 2011 Nestle Golden Chef’s Hat Award held at Northern Sydney TAFE’s Ryde Campus in Australia last September 6, 2011.

We have featured the contest here last July, highlighting how the competition tested the cooking abilities of young apprentices in different regions in Australia. This year’s 23-year old winner, Cameron Wetton is a three-time awardee, having triumphed in the same competition in the last two years. He won the contest with his new teammate and colleague, 22-year old Matthew Wynne, representing their regional state Victoria and defeating the nine other finalists of other Australian regions. His victories in 2009 and 2010 were with his previous team mate Shane Middleton.

Deb Foreman, the competition director, said, “The two winners justly deserved the national title, considering the stiff competition that they had from other states this year. They were amazingly passionate with their craft, and very driven. Their passion emanated on the day of the finals with the exceptional fare that they were able to produce.”

Cameron’s interest in cooking began when he started helping his grandmother in the household kitchen. The interest grew when he was able to take hospitality elective at school.

“I tried recreation and woodwork, but what greatly caught my attention was cooking in the kitchen. I consistently learned new things and the more that I learned, the more that I wanted to do,” said Wetton. “Cooking is a very rewarding hobby and profession, and entering these contests allows me to love it even more, since it entails more learning and creating of new ideas.” He also said that his winning dishes were inspired by his exposure to talented chefs at the Perth Convention Exhibition Center.

The prize and vast opportunities that the two winners are soon to face are very much in line with the competition’s objective of developing and building up the younger generation of chefs in Australia. All finalists were below 23 years old, and were either commis de cuisines or trainees in restaurants within the country, or students within the culinary profession. Before contestants were allowed to join the contest, they had to compose a 50-word brief about their cooking career goals in the next five years.

Now hailed as the National Winners, they will immerse themselves in a marvelous culinary journey to Singapore in April 2012, where they will be given the wonderful opportunity to work at the famous L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. The renowned restaurant, located at Resorts World Sentosa, was founded by Chef Joel Robuchon who has 26 Michelin stars credited to his name, the most for any chefs in the world.

The two young cooking champions will also have the chance to visit Food & Hotel Asia 2012 (FHA 2012), Asia’s biggest food and hospitality trade show that will be held at Singapore Expo on April 17-19, 2012. The trade show expects 40,000 trade visitors in over 90 countries, and is giving the two new chefs the honor to be guest junior judges at the show’s Gourmet Challenge. Their cooking education will also be continuous, as the two champs will once again wear their quality chef hats and train at Singapore Changi Airport’s leading in-flight catering provider, SATS Food Solution Kitchen. Here, they will get to cook and work in Japanese, Oriental and Chinese kitchens.

To top the whole experience off, the two champs gets to tour Nestle Professional’s research and development facilities and experience how food products are made and developed.