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Angliss Wins Club Chef Culinary Challenge Best Overall

Seven teams braved a mystery box of ingredients, as part of the 2023 Club Chef Culinary Challenge. All teams pushed themselves out of their comfort zones, and it was William Angliss Institute cookery students Jimmy Han, Stephanie Goetz and Eric Leu who took out the Best Overall along with a gold medal and best entrée.

Originally called the Vic TAFE Culinary Challenge, the name was changed this year to reflect the competition being made open to teams from select private Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). In its 25th year, the challenge is an opportunity for RTOs to join forces within a growing and competitive training climate, to promote excellence and encourage achievement within Victoria's cookery student community.

This year, teams of three represented William Angliss Institute, Academia, Holmesglen TAFE, GOTAFE (Shepparton), Le Cordon Bleu, Melbourne City Institute of Education (MCIE) and Australian National Institute Business Technology (ANIBT).

William Angliss Institute Cookery Program Leader Nick Blackmore congratulated all the participating teams and said, "Competitions provide an opportunity to challenge yourself, hone your skills, see different styles of food and build networks with fellow competitors. It is a great way for students to step out of their comfort zone and give themselves an edge when looking for work."

The team from Academia also took out a gold medal and the best dessert while Holmesglen secured a silver medal and the best main course. Le Cordon Bleu also took out a silver medal while GOTAFE and MCIE secured a bronze.

It was just after winning the Nestlé Golden Chef's Hat Award that Jimmy joined his peers to compete again in the Club Chef Culinary Challenge. "My mentor Professional Cookery Teacher Lisa Morrison suggested that I participate. I was a bit hesitant at first because I hadn't finished the Golden Chef competition yet, but once I realised that we would compete against other training providers, I decided to join."

"One of the biggest challenges was that none of our team had ever worked together, however, we worked really cooperatively in executing all the tasks to create the dishes. Compared to competing solo, I learnt that competing as a team requires even more precise organisational and management skills," reflected Jimmy.

As part of the challenge, each team received a box of ingredients – including a selection of meat, seafood and vegetables, from which they had to devise 3-course menu they could prepare within a 2.5 hours. No prepared items were allowed to be brought in. A table of common ingredients including cream, eggs, chocolate, flour, salt, pepper and sugar were available, as well as, the mystery box of ingredients.

Stephanie enjoyed being involved and encourages all students to compete. "I think it's important for students to participate in challenges such as this because it forces you to identify what skills you have and how you can you can apply those skills under pressure," she said.

Guest judge and Culinary Director of the Hellenic House Project and Hotel Sorrento, George Calombaris thought that the William Angliss Institute team would win from the outset of the challenge, just by observing their kitchen practice. "There was a great intent in their delivery, which is also a credit to their training at the Institute. Their decision making, mise en place (preparation before starting to cook), organisation, cleanliness, tidiness and movement around the kitchen put them ahead," explained George.

"It's great to see students from the different training institutions having a go at this type of competition. It can be daunting but it's the best thing for them. Looking back at all the competitions that I did as a young apprentice – honestly – they made me. They refined my practice and today I still use a lot of it," added George.

George encourages established chefs to give back and help drive emerging talent to be the next Neil Perry. "I really wanted to participate as a judge in the Club Chef Culinary Challenge so that I can hopefully inspire and give back to young apprentices – just like Chefs did with me when I was just starting out," he added.

Looking to open his own restaurant in the future, Eric was not only happy that their team won Best Overall but that he had the opportunity to learn from peers and teachers. "I used what I have learnt during my training during the challenge and also discovered new ways of combining mystery ingredients while working with a new team," he explained.

The Institute appreciates the support from the industry chefs who were judges on the day. We also extend thanks to event sponsors Club Chef, Robot Coupe, The Red Spoon Company, Sous Vide Australia, Loyal, Humpty Doo Barramundi and the Abalone Council of Australia.
William Angliss Institute has a commitment to collaborating with industry to enhance the student learning experience.

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Published Monday 16 October 2023