Young Docklands talent wins grand finale of prestigious cooking competition
At just 22, Docklands resident and commercial cookery student Jimmy Han is at the top of his game after claiming victory at the coveted Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award competition.
Currently working at two-hatted restaurant and The Age Good Food Guide’s 2023 Victorian Restaurant of the Year, ARU in Melbourne’s CBD, Mr Han impressed judges with his “unforgettable” three-course dining experience.
The talented William Angliss Institute student was crowned the Golden Chef of the Year in what is Australia’s longest running and most credible competition for young chefs, with finalists from New Zealand also vying for the trophy this year.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work as an apprentice at a two Michelin starred restaurant in Taiwan, this made me realise I wanted to elevate my skills as a chef,” Mr Han said.
“The dining culture in Melbourne is so diverse, which I love - going into the grand finals of Golden Chef’s, I felt excited to take my cooking to the next level and I was confident in my approach.”
As well as securing the Golden Chef title and being the only chef on the day to achieve triple golds for his menu, in a competition first, Mr Han also won two awards for Best Savoury and Best Dessert.
Mr Han’s winning menu reflected the changing seasons through each dish in his thoughtful, storytelling approach that also focused on sustainability.
A torched corn salad with nashi pear, baby spinach and Greek Yogurt represented ‘Green in Spring’ for entrée, as well as ‘Orange in Autumn’ for main with Murray Cod and chorizo, fennel wakame salad, sweet potato puree and tom yum butter sauce.
To finish, Mr Han delivered ‘White in Winter’ for dessert, with vanilla black pepper bavarois, sable lemon gel, white chocolate soil with shaved macadamia and raspberry jelly.
“It takes a lot of courage for young chefs to step up and be critiqued at such a high level,” head judge and Nestlé professional commercial development chef Elke Travers said.
“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.”
In winning the competition, which was held in Sydney in September, Mr Han was awarded a two-week culinary experience in Europe valued at $10,000, which includes travelling with the Australian team competing at the IKA Culinary Olympics in Germany.
He has also received a custom set of bespoke KOI Knives. For the Best Savoury and Best Dessert awards, Mr Han also received two $2500 tuition packages.
“I can’t wait to see where this journey will take me next in terms of my culinary career,” Mr Han said.
The Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award competition has been giving young chefs the opportunity to kickstart their careers since 1965, supporting more than 7500 chefs.
“Being part of the Golden Chef’s Hat Competition gives the next generation of chefs the opportunity to put themselves to the test, improve their cooking skills, and connect with like-minded chefs as well as the broader industry,” Ms Travers said.
Caption: Jimmy Han celebrates his win after being crowned the Golden Chef of the Year.