First published on 22 May 2013. Updated on 11 Jun 2013.
The young guns of Melbourne's kitchens spend their days debearding mussels, and turning vegetables. But here at Time Out, we know that they've got a whole lot more talent stuffed in their aprons.
So, this June, we're letting them flex their biceps at a one-off dinner at Stokehouse Café that will see one young chef named Melbourne's best apprentice, by you, the diners.
Over 40 applicants answered our call, and after some serious whittling, we came down to the final six. Melbourne, meet the apprentices who could, can and will rock your world on June 18.
Want to be one of the diners who decides their fate? Tickets are on sale now and selling fast. Get all the details here.
Myles Stack - The European
What the key to a great dish?
For me, to make a good dish is not necessary to have dozens or expensive ingredients, but rather, to thoughtfully combine a few ingredients to complement each other. I prefer simple food presentation over crowded mayhem.
Who are your chef influences?
Living in Melbourne, I'm lucky to be surrounded and work with many great chefs. I have most recently been inspired through dinning at Attica, Royal Mail, Mo Vida, Cutler and Co. Also working closely with Ian Curley (the European) has opened my perspective and helped me grow as a chef.
Tell us about your dish.
Each dish that I create I want the customer to easily relate to the flavour of the ingredient without confusion. I'll be cooking pan-fried baby snapper fillets, with eggplant caviar, squid ink tarama, cuttlefish fricassee.
Naomi McGovern - Pei Modern
What drives you in the kitchen?
There's a quote from Great Chefs of France that goes: "The chefs who live through such a day are not slaves nor are they driven by financial greed. They are artists dedicated to the pursuit of excellence." This is my ambition.
Did you always want to be in the kitchen?
I come from a front of house background, having had the pleasure of working in Il Bacaro, Sarti, Gills Diner and Trunk. Although this makes me older coming into the kitchen, it has exposed me to many of the elements and given me a greater knowledge of restaurant operations. As an apprentice I began working in Supermaxi. I want to master all the elements of the kicthen before working overseas.
What will you be cooking?
A salad of pork belly with smoke oyster tofu. Sous vide pork belly, seared. Served with fried inside out tofu stuffed with an oyster. Accompanied with chrysanthemum and daikon ribbons, in a simple lime, garlic and white soy dressing.
Sidney Tor - Stokehouse
What do you like to cook?
Anything to do with duck. I find the meat very flavoursome and it is very versatile, with not too much wastage.Some of my favourite dishes to cook are: roasted whole duck, duck leg curry and a pan seared duck breast fillet served with a salad
Who are your influences?
Oliver Gould (Stokehouse), Ben Shewry (Attica), Andrew McConnell (Cutler and Co) and Neil Perry (Rockpool) are just some of the local chefs I look up to because they all use local produce and the best produce available.
What's your competition dish?
My dish is an entrée which is half a duck breast, tea smoked, and served with a chilli caramel, pickled heirloom radishes and watercress. I chose this dish because I think there are very strong flavours which all seem to work well together.
Alex Kavanaugh - Trocadero
Why do you cook?
Working in kitchens is a real joy for me especially making staff meals and cooking for friends, I think it’s a great felling when you know that people are enjoying your food.
I have been very lucky gaining experience working at the Stokehouse and Taxi dining room and currently working at Trocadero. I enjoy cooking all different cuisines such as working at taxi with an Asian influenced menu.
What dish will you be making?
I'm cooking salmon tortellini, with pan roasted prawns, pea and ham puree, crispy pancetta and petty herb salad.
Michael Frenkiel - Coda Restaurant
Did you always want to be a chef?
Prior to my current occupation I was not really involved in hospitality, but rather was training to become a paramedic; as events panned out and my heart’s passion wavered I decided to become a chef, and one year on I haven’t looked back!
Where would you like to work in the future?
There are several restaurants around the globe where I would love to work; Perse in New York, El Cellar in Spain and Franklins in Houston, Texas to name a few.
What are you cooking for us?
Deconstructed pork sandwich. A take on the classic American pulled pork sandwich with an Asian influence. Sesame coated pork belly sitting upon a North Carolina barbecue sauce with toasted panko breadcrumbs with pickled cabbage slaw.
Mia Boland - Pei Modern
How did you end up at Pei Modern?
Growing up in a country town and living on over an acre of sustainable land, I’ve learnt respect for the produce and the farmers who grow it. Taking a career in cooking seemed to be the next step after my school years. Moving to Melbourne I started at the Sofitel academy where I learnt the basics of cooking. After building a rapport with my local cheese man, I was offered the opportunity to work at Pei Modern.
With produce as your primary focus, what other restaurants do you admire?
Places like Petersham Nurseries, Loam, Eleven Madison Park and Tartine bakery.
What are you cooking in the competition?
My dish is titled: apple, buttermilk and strawberry gum. It's a buttermilk sorbet with cider apples, strawberry gum meringue, marshmallows and a white chocolate and yoghurt ganache.
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