Mathew Lee named Queensland Chef of the Year 2019

Media release: 9 August 2019

Mathew Lee named Queensland Chef of the Year 2019

The Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre’s talented Sous Chef, Mathew Lee, was named ‘Queensland Chef of the Year’ at the second ever competition held this week as part of Food & Hospitality Queensland.

After two days of heated competition on his home turf at the BCEC, Lee was pronounced the winner, scoring highest in the Grand Final against Jason McCormick from Plate Art, Grant Parry from Videre at Royal Pines Resort and Anthony Dunne from Mr Edward’s Alehouse & Kitchen.

A total of 28 chefs were selected to compete in Brisbane on Sunday and Monday. Each chef prepared two dishes in an hour from a mystery box of ingredients, and the four highest-scoring chefs faced off in the Grand Final.

“It is a great feeling to win this title,” says Lee, who was a Grand Finalist in the inaugural contest last year. “It is a very challenging competition, being part of it has really expanded my horizons and I have learnt so much from the judges and the other competitors.”

Chefs in the Grand Final were required to prepare two dishes in one hour using pork loin, pork cheek and pigs’ ears, plus Balmain bugs and Hervey Bay scallops. The mystery box also contained a selection of vegetables and herbs and the chefs had access to a pantry of dry goods and dairy.

Lee’s first dish was seared scallops and bugs with a citrus salad and fennel, gooseberry, avocado and finger lime salsa, while his Asian-inspired main dish was pork cheek, ears and loin with pecan, apple and potato puree and soy-pickled mushrooms.

Head Judge Karen Doyle says Lee showed “exemplary cookery and organisational skills, and he showcased each ingredient in the dish with a depth of flavor and a highly creative professional finish”.

As winner of the Queensland event, Lee has earnt a place in the national competition to be held in Sydney next year, and in the meantime he says he is looking forward to sharing what he has learnt with his team at BCEC and other young chefs.

Doyle says Lee can be very proud of his achievement. “It is a really challenging competition, due to the diversity and range of the mystery boxes, and the creativity that is required to conjure up innovative, flavoursome, visually appealing dishes that showcase a range of culinary techniques within a tight timeframe,” she explains.

The judging team comprised Doyle, who is Program Manager at Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney and Australian Culinary Federation NSW-ACT & Regions President; consultant chef Paul Rifkin, Andre Kropp from Wrest Point in Tasmania and Shane Keighley from Restaurant Dan Arnold. The competition director was Gary Farrell and the compere was Peter Howard AM.

The four Grand Finalists in Queensland Chef of the Year all took home the Unox LineMiss Arianna Oven they used in the competition and a hamper from Australian Pork. As the winner Mat Lee also received $2,500 cash, and the trip to Sydney for Foodservice Australia in 2020.

Gary Farrell says the competition was made possible by generous industry supporters including Australian Pork, Unox Australia, PFD Food Services, Totally Workwear, The Wholesale Fruit Co. and Winterhalter.

The national competition, Australian Professional Chef of the Year, will be held at Foodservice Australia at ICC Sydney, 17-19 May 2020.

Entries will open later this year. For more information and full results visit the event page at


Caption: Queensland Chef of the Year Judges and Grand Finalists

L-R Judge Andre Kropp, winner Mathew Lee, Grand Finalist Anthony Dunne, Judge Shane Keighley, Head Judge Karen Doyle, Grand Finalist Jason McCormick, Grand Finalist Grant Parry and Judge Paul Rifkin.