Michael Cole wins Australian Professional Chef of the Year 2019

Left to right: Michael Cole and John McFadden

Following a last-minute entry, Michael Cole has been named Chef of the Year 2019. The former head chef of the Mornington Peninsula’s Flinders Hotel won the prestigious title as well as $6,500 cash and valuable prizes from major sponsors Unox, Anchor Food Professionals and Australian Pork.

As the second-time winner and Australia’s representative in this year’s Bocuse d’Or global culinary contest, Cole was under pressure to perform, and he delivered, winning first his heat, then the semi-final and the grand final.

“I couldn’t be happier,” says Cole. “I really wanted to test myself and see how far I had come since I won Chef of the Year in 2017. I think it’s a great way to benchmark myself against the best of the best in this industry and competing inspires me to be more creative and disciplined.”

Head judge John McFadden says Cole didn’t waiver from the heat, to the semi and the grand final and scored highly for all his dishes. He explains, “What set Michael apart from the get-go was his methodical and clinical approach, and the way he maintained a consistently high standard in his kitchen practices and culinary techniques”.

Cole’s fellow grand finalists were Ollie Hansford, newly appointed as executive chef at Stokehouse Q in Brisbane; Josh Pelham, executive chef at RACV Cape Schanck Resort and Tom Brockbank, executive chef at The Windsor Hotel.

They each had to cook two dishes from a mystery box of ingredients in one hour, in front of a panel of expert judges and a huge crowd of cheering onlookers. This year the mystery box included pork liver, ear, belly, cheek and crepinette, plus chicken breast, kingfish, scallops and crabmeat, butter, cream, fingerlimes, raisins and red elk mustard cress. The chefs were also required to use a smoking gun. Cole won with his ‘Assiette of pork’ with minutes to spare. 

“This was a real pressure test,” says McFadden. “The mystery box was very challenging and all four chefs performed phenomenally well.”

The next Australian Professional Chef of the Year will be held at ICC Sydney, 17-19 May 2020. Entries will open later this year. For more information and full results visit the event website at www.chefcompetition.com.au