Finalists ready to rumble for the title of Queensland Chef of the Year

Media release: 23 July 2019

Finalists ready to rumble for the title of Queensland Chef of the Year

Brisbane is set to host 28 of the Sunshine State’s hottest chefs in a pressure-cooker contest that will pit competitors against the clock and each other.

This elite contest is being held at Food & Hospitality Queensland, 4-5 August at Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre with finalists from all corners of the hospitality industry – demonstrating the breadth of talent and skills across the state.

Last year’s winner, Marcus Hillier from Factory 51 in Brisbane, is returning to defend his title and many chefs are having a crack for a second time. Among those new to the competition this year are popular cooking identity Melanie Alafaci from Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures cooking school, Sunilprasad Thadathil Sukumaran from Townsville Yacht Club and Anthony Dunne from Mr Edwards Ale House.

Competition organiser Gary Farrell says, “Queensland is well known for its excellent hotels and resorts and these are well represented by chefs such as Ryan Della Vega from Silky Oaks Lodge in the Daintree, Grant Parry from Videre at Royal Pines Resort, Dayan Hartill-Law from The Star Gold Coast and Yan Ng from W Hotel Brisbane”.

“In addition, there are chefs with different daily challenges, such as Andrew McCrea, Executive Chef at Queensland Parliament; Danielle Dixon from the Institute of Culinary Excellence, Wayne Ryan, Head Chef at Aveo Newstead retirement village; and Mathew Lee from Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.”

Queensland’s thriving restaurant scene will also be strutting its stuff, with chefs including Cody McKavanagh from Fu Manchu and Madame Fu, Federico Gramignani from Motorwagen, David Kang from Maru, Michael Orford from the Chambers in Cairns and Andrea Bontempi from Tocco Italiano.

The judging panel will be headed up by Karen Doyle, a seasoned culinary judge who is also Program Manager at Le Cordon Bleu Australia. She will be assisted by Andre Kropp, Paul Rifkin and Shane Keighley. Peter Howard AM, one of Australia’s original celebrity chefs, will be the MC.

Farrell comments that the competition is a great leveller, as each chef is working with the same protein cuts to create an entrée and a main in one hour. Judges will give a score based on taste, presentation, technique and kitchen skills, and the four highest-scoring finalists will compete in a Grand Final on Monday.

“In the heats, finalists can look forward to working with some excellent pork cuts, plus they have a good selection of fruit and vegetables and access to a well-stocked pantry,” he says. “For the Grand Final, they will be working solely from a mystery box, which is always a great test for any chef.”

The competition is proudly sponsored by Australian Pork and Unox, uniforms will be provided by Totally Workwear, Winterhalter is supplying washing equipment and PFD will provide produce.

“I encourage all chefs to come along and watch the action,” says Farrell. “It’s a perfect opportunity to get new ideas for ingredients and techniques, and to experience first-hand the sheer culinary talent Queensland has to offer.”

Now in its second year, Food & Hospitality Queensland is a trade show dedicated to the food retail, restaurant and catering industry. There will be over 150 exhibitors, plus free workshops at the Café School.

Entry is free if you work in the hospitality industry and pre-register online, go to


Melanie Alafaci Executive Chef, Vanilla Zulu, Teneriffe

Duane Allen Head Chef, Mofos, Southbank

Andrea Bontempi Head Chef, Tocco Italiano, Teneriffe

Nigel Broom Head Chef, The Broadbeach, Broadbeach

Lloyd Cremer Executive Chef, Harbour Fresh, Coolangatta

Ryan Dela Vega Sous Chef, Treehouse Restaurant, Mossman

Danielle Dixon Executive Chef, The Institute of Culinary Excellence, Coorparoo

Anthony Dunne Head Chef, Mr Edwards Ale House & Kitchen, Brisbane

Stephen Furlong Senior Hospitality Trainer, QC Café, Brisbane

Federico Gramignani Head Chef, Motorwagen, Brisbane

Dayan Hartill-Law Chef de Cuisine, Cucina Vivo, Broadbeach

Kyran Henry Head Chef, Beyond the Pale, Coorparoo

Marcus Hillier Sous Chef, Factory 51, Coorparoo

Steven Holbert Chef /Owner, The American Bourbon Bar & Grill, Springwood

David Kang Executive Chef, Maru Korean Restaurant, Brisbane

Mathew Lee Sous Chef, BCEC, South Brisbane

Norbert Marczinek Sous Chef, Beachside Pavilion, Broadbeach

Jason McCormick Cooking Consultant, Plate Art Wedding Catering, Burpengary

Cody McKavanagh Executive Chef, Fu Manchu and Madam Fu, Labrador

Nigel Mills Chef, Queensland Parliament, Brisbane

Yan Ng Chef, W Hotel Brisbane

Michael Orford Head Chef, The Chambers, Cairns

Grant Parry Chef de Cuisine, Videre, Benowa

Edward Richardson Head Chef, The Cotton Club, Cairns

Wayne Ryan Head Chef, Aveo Newstead

Evan Seaward Head Chef, Morsels Tapas Restaurant & Bar, Mudgeeraba

Sunilprasad Thadathil Sukumaran Executive Chef, Townsville Yacht Club, South Townsville

Luke Tye Chef, Dalton Hospitality Luxury Events, Fortitude Valley


Media Contact:

Kirsty Hunt

T 03 9999 5460