South Australia’s world-renowned food and wine industry is its largest sector, employing one in five working Australians. It is internationally recognised for its cutting-edge biosecurity standards, providing premium fresh produce to consumers around the world.
South Australia’s own Wagner was named the regional winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy, which will see him compete in Milan next year.
The Royal Adelaide Show Cookery Competition
The Royal Adelaide Show is a family favourite and an opportunity to showcase the skills of both novice and expert. With a range of over 190 different classes, it’s easy to find something to enter and get involved in. The cooking competitions are a particular favourite with both students and professionals alike.
The competitions are a great way to gain confidence in the kitchen, promote your restaurant and compete with fellow chefs, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for aspiring culinary stars to be exposed to industry leaders. It’s also a great way to network with local and international hospitality industry suppliers and buyers and to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in the hospitality market.
In the past, competitors have gone on to do fantastic things like winning a top place at the world-famous Eleven Madison Park in New York or working as head chef of restaurants across Australia and Asia. The 2017 competition saw Buddha Black come in second and Chris Walsh third, both from the award-winning restaurant at the InterContinental Melbourne Hotel. Both of these chefs have since taken on prominent positions with some of the country’s finest restaurants, with Buddha now overseeing a team at the award-winning restaurant in Hong Kong and Walsh leading the kitchen at InterContinental Sydney.
Cooking is just one of many competitions offered at the Royal Adelaide Show. There are also horticulture, fashion, handicrafts and technology competitions to name just a few. In addition to the competitive sections, there are also demonstrations and entertainment acts that take place in the main arena. These have included the human cannonball, rocket man and high-flying acrobats.
The Royal Adelaide Show’s organisers have a long history of embracing new ideas and innovations to attract people of all ages and backgrounds. In the early days of the show, the emphasis was on displaying and judging livestock and produce. But as the number of visitors increased, organisers began to add more entertainment options to attract a wider audience. Sideshow alleys with rides and games were added, and this tradition continues today.
The Royal Adelaide Show is the largest annual community event in South Australia, and a great opportunity for young people to learn more about their local communities, agriculture and industry. With a focus on innovation and excellence, it is a unique part of the state’s culture.
The Culinary Challenge 2023
For aspiring chefs, the Culinary Challenge is an opportunity to prove their mettle and compete for a coveted spot at the national finals. The live competition, sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), starts at a regional level, with competitors scoring on organisation, cooking skills and culinary technique. A panel of judges – including local and international chef icons – assess each competitor’s creation, providing valuable feedback and guidance.
This year’s event featured an incredible array of talented chefs, with the winner chosen by a jury – including ACF judge Peter Gilmore – and acclaimed food and wine curators Emma McCaskill and Nick Stock. The event showcased the incredible talent and creativity that South Australia has to offer.
The state’s thriving food and wine industry is the country’s largest, employing one in five people and contributing $18.2 billion to the economy in 2014-15. It’s also internationally renowned for its cutting-edge biosecurity standards and high-quality produce, harvested from a pristine environment free of pests and disease.
With this in mind, it’s important to support the growth of future generations of culinary talent. Luckily, this is something that can be done with the help of a wide range of stakeholders – from industry bodies to education providers and government.
A key role for the government is to foster innovation and technological advancement. This is done through a range of programs, such as the Waite Research Precinct in Adelaide, which provides industry with the resources to innovate and create a more sustainable future for our food and wine industries.
One such program is the Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge, which aims to prepare students for a future in the industry and address predictions of job shortages. As part of the competition, students will be asked to submit a video outlining a creative sustainable practice that they implement in their workplace. This could be anything from sourcing local and native ingredients from artisan suppliers to head-to-tail practices to eliminate waste – with the winner being rewarded for their innovative approach. It’s an impressive initiative that can make a real difference to the future of our culinary world.
The S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy
Throughout the competition, chefs are given the chance to showcase their skills, promote their restaurants and compete with fellow professionals. This is a valuable experience that allows them to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and learn from each other. The competition also gives them the opportunity to showcase Australia’s thriving hospitality industry, a key reason why it is one of the world’s premier food and wine destinations.
At the end of the regional final, which took place in Cape Town last month, four chefs were chosen to move on to the Grand Final in Milan this year. This was the culmination of an intense two days of kitchen-focussed creativity and inspiring discussions. During the cook-off, the young chefs were evaluated by a jury of seven giants of international gastronomy – Eneko Atxa, Riccardo Camanini, Helene Darroze, Jozef Van Meegeren, Vicky Lau, Pia Leon and Julien Royer. The finalists were assessed on their technical ability, the quality of their dishes and their personal beliefs.
The chefs were tasked with creating a dish that represented their personality and culinary journey so far. They were also required to show their attention towards a sustainable approach to food and cooking. The judges were wowed by many of the creations, including Robin Wagner from Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant who created a vegan dish featuring smoked celeriac, granny smith apple and crispy taro. Other highlights included a venison dish by Jackson Mehlhopt from Tussock Hill Vineyard, who hand-carried cuts of wapiti deer (an invasive species) from New Zealand to Sydney to show his commitment to sustainable and ethical cuisine, as well as a dessert by Callan Austin from Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, paired with wines from Mosi Wines and Nespresso.
The winner, decided by the jury based on the three golden rules of technical ability, creativity and personal belief, was chef Mythrayie Iyer from Farmlore Restaurant in Bengaluru, India. All the chefs who participated in the competition can now access to the Academy, a platform with webinars, interviews and discussions led by prominent international chefs. The platform also provides access to mentors who can help the participants develop a broad range of competencies that will support them in their careers.
The Australian Regional Culinary Competition
South Australia has an amazing food industry and is a world-class producer of premium products that are highly sought after locally, nationally and internationally. A combination of a blessed landscape and climate, centuries of hard work, and a commitment to innovation has built a strong culture of excellence in the state’s food and wine sector. It is the foundation of a significant part of the economy and has a positive impact on our social fabric.
It’s also a source of pride and inspiration for the state’s young chefs. That’s why the Australian Regional Culinary Competition is such a great opportunity for young chefs to test their skills and compete with other young chefs from across the country. The competition is held as a pre-event to the Australian Foodservice Expo at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, and this year it will run from 1-2 May.
The competition asks young chefs to cook a single dish that showcases their personality and culinary journey thus far. It can be a main, a dessert or a tapas dish. Using only the ingredients provided, competitors are challenged to create something special. The judges will be looking for creativity, originality and skill. The winner will be awarded a prize that includes international travel and a culinary work experience in Germany, as well as a set of KOI kitchen knives.
South West TAFE apprentices were also at the forefront of this year’s competition when they cooked up a storm at a regional heat in Bunbury on June 12. “The competition was a great opportunity to showcase their culinary talent, teamwork and organisation,” says Kathryn Tindal-Davies, who runs the program. “They had to prepare a three-course menu under pressure in just over an hour. It was a real paddock to plate experience for the apprentices.”
Proud to be a Chef is an exciting program that recognises and develops Australia’s best and brightest apprentice chefs to become the culinary leaders of the future. It provides them with a unique career advancing opportunity by providing them with access to mentors from the restaurant industry and industry experts. The mentors help the apprentice chefs prepare for the Australian national final of the Bocuse d’Or competition. This is a world-renowned culinary competition with regional semi-finals and the grand final in Lyon, France every two years.