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Angliss student Jimmy Han wins Nestlé Golden Chef of the Year

Golden congratulations to Angliss Commercial Cookery student Jimmy Han, who has been crowned the 2023 Golden Chef of the Year, in Australia's longest running and most credible competition for young chefs.

Achieving triple gold medals in the fiercely contested 2023 Nestlé Golden Chef's Hat Award, at 22 years of age, Chef Han, is thrilled to have tasted success in the ultimate food industry culinary competition.

Not only was he the only chef to achieve triple golds for his menu creations, but in a first for the competition, he also took out the Best Savoury Dish and Best Dessert Dish Awards.

When he won the second gold for Best Dessert Dish, Jimmy thought that he had a good chance of winning Golden Chef of the Year but he was still nervous. "I had such a sigh of relief when I heard that I had won the title. It felt like all my efforts had been recognised," he said.

Having come to Australia less than a year ago, with nothing but huge ambition and determination to be the best chef he can be, Chef Han has proven that anything is possible.

"I've been lucky enough to work as an apprentice at two Michelin starred restaurants in Taiwan. This made me realise I wanted to elevate my skill set as a chef. The dining culture in Melbourne is so diverse, which I love. Going into the grand final of Golden Chefs, I felt excited to take my cooking to the next level and I was confident in my approach. I can't wait to see where this journey will take me next in terms of my culinary career," he explained.

It has required significant effort to build up his network from scratch in an entirely new and unfamiliar setting, however, his love of food has enabled Jimmy to connect with others. "Exploring different foods and culinary cultures, while sharing ideas with other chefs in Australia, has definitely made it easier for me to integrate into the local environment," he said.

Jimmy's interest in cooking started at the age of eight when he found a box of baking equipment and two baking books at home. Soon after, he started making pastries and has never looked to any other career since.

The judges praised Chef Han for creating an unforgettable dining experience across his menu, with impeccable flavour balance, faultless technique, and strong storytelling.

Delivering a rare standout triple gold winning menu, his menu reflected the changing seasons and incorporated a sustainability thread in every dish:

  • Entrée 'Green in Spring' - torched corn Murray Cod salad with nashi pear, baby spinach and Greek Yoghurt.
  • Main 'Orange in Autumn' - Murray Cod with chorizo, torched pickle fennel wakame salad, sweet potato puree and tom yum butter sauce.
  • Dessert 'Winter in White' - vanilla black pepper bavarois, sable, lemon gel, white chocolate soil, shaved macadamia, citrus zest, nashi pear raspberry jelly and an apricot chocolate polar bear symbolising the main victim of global warming drifting on a rapidly diminishing ice cap.

One of the greatest challenges that competitors face is having to work in a different kitchen to what they may be used to. Jimmy explained, "We only saw the actual kitchen on the day of the competition. I practiced at William Angliss Institute several times in different kitchens, so I was well-prepared to use yet another kitchen layout."

He went straight into preparation after winning the Victorian Cook-Off. "Starting in early August, I committed to rigorous practice four days a week, with each session lasting at least six hours. It was a way for me to push myself to the limit. In addition to practicing for the competition, I had to manage my school coursework and work at Aru as well. I didn't have a single day off for a whole month and a half," said Chef Han.

William Angliss Institute Cookery Program Leader Nick Blackmore was delighted with the outcome and said, "Jimmy was very focused. He trained very hard for many weeks leading up to the event. He sought feedback from trainers on presentation, flavours and techniques. He timed himself to replicate the competition conditions. In short, he was disciplined and took all feedback constructively and used that feedback to refine and perfect his dishes."

Nick added that it was both nerve wracking and extremely rewarding watching Jimmy in action at the Final Cook-Off. "Nerve racking because you know what pressure they are under to perform and you are watching every move and every process. It's also very rewarding, and a bit of a proud moment. Seeing a student start their course and flourish, follow their dreams and do exceptionally well in the class room, or in this case, the competition arena is a really proud moment.

"Jimmy is such a quiet and humble chef. This win is a really big deal. He's already gearing up for the next competition. Without putting too much pressure on him, remember the name Jimmy Han, this young man is going places," added Nick.

Head Judge and Nestlé Professional Commercial Development Chef, Elke Travers says, "It takes a lot of courage for young chefs to step up and be critiqued at such a high level. All the finalists this year have been truly impressive, but Jimmy's dish execution went above and beyond. This win is definitely going to launch his career to new heights, and I can't wait to see what he accomplishes in the future."

Each chef received over $1,000 in kitchen equipment thanks to event sponsors SOLIDTEKNICS.

Chef Han has been awarded with a two-week European culinary experience, valued at $10,000, to travel with the Australian Culinary Olympics Junior Team to the IKA Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart, Germany next February. This unique trip will also include a bespoke culinary work experience in Europe.

In addition, Chef Han received a custom set of beautifully crafted KOI Knives to enhance his kitchen toolkit and two $2,500 tuition packages for delivering the Best Savoury Dish Award and the Best Dessert Dish Award.

"I am incredibly excited and honored to have the opportunity to participate in the IKA/Culinary Olympics. I have known about this culinary event since I was 16 years old and in high school. At that time, I competed in Battle of the Chefs, which is a culinary competition organised by the Penang Chefs Association, and also in the Taiwan Culinary Arts Challenge," added Jimmy.

The first thing that Jimmy did after the Awards dinner was call his family and girlfriend to share the good news. "I would like to express my gratitude to my family for their support, which has allowed me to pursue my dreams of studying abroad and working internationally. I also want to thank my girlfriend for her understanding and support despite the distance between us," he emphasised.

"I would also like to extend my appreciation to my classmates David and Eric and the teachers at William Angliss Institute for their support, including Professional Cookery Teacher Chef Lisa Morrison and Chef Nick plus my colleagues at ARU for their guidance and inspiration."

The chefs competing for the Nestlé Golden Chef's Hat Award, are judged by expert judges from the Australian Culinary Federation, NZChefs and Nestlé Professional who assess professional practices, presentation and the all-important taste factor, all to globally recognised standards.

As Australia's longest running culinary competition for young chefs, the Nestlé Golden Chef's Hat Award is now in its 58th year, supporting top emerging culinary talent to challenge themselves and kick start their careers. Stay up to date on Facebook @goldenchefs and Instagram @golden_chefs

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Published Wednesday 27 September