Signal Box apprentice chef Matthew Mirosevich has risen to the top, taking out the 2020 Brett Graham Scholarship after battling it out in the final cook-off this week at TAFE NSW Hamilton.
In partnership with the Hunter TAFE Foundation and the Hunter Culinary Association, the scholarship is named after one of TAFE NSW’s most successful alumni and former Novocastrian Brett Graham.
The $10,000 prize includes a Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery and a once-in-a-lifetime trip to London, to work with Mr Graham in his award-winning businesses, including the Harwood Arms and The Ledbury.
Shortlisted from a group of seven apprentices, Mr Mirosevich was joined by finalists Jayden Dann (EXP Restaurant) and Samuel McKinnon (Muse Restaurant) on Tuesday night.
They were then given the task to design and cook a menu based on ingredients selected by Mr Graham.
The judging panel was joined this year by TAFE NSW alumni and 2009 scholarship winner Garreth Robbs, who is now head chef at Molines Bistro in the Hunter Valley.
“The quality of dishes [this evening] was exceptional,” he said.
“The brief embodied Brett’s signature classic combinations with innovative twists.
“This gave the finalists room to interpret the brief when designing their menus and feature their take on timeless classics.”
Looking back on his time at The Ledbury, Mr Robbs said seeing how a kitchen operated at that high level was eye-opening.
“My time in London has impacted every aspect of my career,” he added.
“After nearly 11 years and now as a head chef, I’m still drawing on things I learnt for the first time.”
TAFE NSW head teacher of commercial cookery Mark McManus said he was very proud of the high standard of technical ability demonstrated by each of the students.
“They presented sophisticated dishes that really showcased their talent and skill level,” he summed up.
Hunter Culinary Association chairman Gus Maher said the scholarship was a chance to refine skills and build connections that help launch successful careers.
“Our scholarship winners bring their experience back to the region, shaping innovation and further promoting the Hunter as a premier food destination,” he stated.
For further information on Hospitality and Commercial Cookery courses, visit www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.