Entries open for Fonterra’s Apprentice chef competition with big prize

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 4th September 2012

The Australasian-New Zealand based dairy processor and foodservice group Fonterra (owner of many of Australia’s best known dairy brands such as Western Star butter) is inviting participants to enter a Fonterra-sponsored competition for  apprentice chefs.

Fonterra Foodservice today announced that entries are now open for Fonterra Proud to be a Chef 2013, a mentoring program for apprentice chefs across Australia and New Zealand.

The winning standout apprentice will receive the major prize of an international culinary scholarship, tailored to their individual aspirations as a professional chef.

Last year’s winner, Sonja Dawson, received a placement at the sixth ranking restaurant in the world – Per Se, in New York.

The competition program will give 32 apprentices the opportunity to participate in master classes conducted by acclaimed chefs and industry experts. From these master classes one winner is selected. This year classes will be run by Teage Ezard – owner of Gingerboy, amongst others.

Now in its 14th year, the program boasts impressive alumni including George Calombaris, who is now a TV personality as one of the MasterChef judges and owner of The Press Club, and Matthew Macartney who is the executive chef at Chateau Yering.

This year, finalists will have the opportunity to learn from:

  • Teage Ezard, owner of Ezard, Gingerboy and Black by Ezard
  • Leigh Power, executive chef at Gingerboy
  • Peter Wright, National President of the Australian Culinary Federation.


A program with a long and esteemed history in Australian foodservice, Fonterra Proud to be a Chef is its way of publicly recognising, encouraging and rewarding the vital contribution that chefs make to the food industry in Australia.

Carolyn Plummer, Fonterra Proud to be a Chef coordinator, says the program has received great support from the industry.

Fonterra Proud to be a Chef is pleased to provide passionate apprentice chefs with a unique opportunity to learn, be inspired and work with some of Australia’s best chefs,” she said. “Fonterra encourages apprentice chefs to take pride in their culinary passion and is happy to provide a platform to recognise their hard work.”

Last year’s winner Sonja Dawson  said that winning Fonterra Proud to be a Chef was a huge boost to her confidence.

Fonterra Proud to be a Chef was an incredible experience. It was so much fun to meet 31 other chefs who are just as interested in doing this work as I am,” she said. “I learned so much from the mentor chefs and I am certain that winning the program has made be more employable.”

“I am very excited for my upcoming trip to New York,” she added. “For me the hospitality industry is about more than just working in the kitchen. I am interested in learning about the overall dining culture in New York – how people eat, how they socialise – I just want to soak up as much as I can.”

Applicants are evaluated on their demonstrated passion for food servicing as well as their aspirations, goals and commitment to chefing, and their performance in Fonterra Proud to be a Chef master classes. Judging is conducted by an expert panel of industry professionals including chefs, educators and representatives from the Australian Culinary Federation and Fonterra Foodservice.

Finalists will participate in the Fonterra Proud to be a Chef 2013 mentoring program in Melbourne from 25 to 28 February 2013. The master classes are part of an all-expense paid trip to Melbourne where applicants will have the opportunity to dine at award winning Melbourne restaurants.

Entries for 2013 are now open and all passionate apprentice chefs in Australia and New Zealand are encouraged to enter via www.fonterrafoodservices.com.au or via the Fonterra Proud to be a Chef Facebook page, www.facebook.com/proudtobeachef.

Entry is open to apprentice chefs aged 18 and above who are enrolled in a culinary course anywhere in Australia or New Zealand as at 25 February 2013. Participants must also be Australian or New Zealand citizens or hold an eligible Australian or New Zealand work visa.

Entries close on Wednesday 31 October, 2012.