A LOCAL apprentice chef has served up success and secured herself a trip to Sydney where she will represent NSW Regional in the grand finals of the 2021 Nestlé Golden Chef's Hat Award.
Ashleigh Handsaker, who is just 18, is a first year apprentice chef at Fratelli Roma in High Street. She created a bronze medal winning two-course menu of confit chicken Maryland, chicken roulade with carrot puree, braised leeks, sautéed cavolo nero and jus gras.
This was followed by cardamom crème brulee tart, rhubarb coulis, caramelised white chocolate crumble and citrus Chantilly cream.
The judging panel scored using globally recognised culinary standards to award Ashleigh with the regional heats win, one of 12 being held across Australia and New Zealand.
"I've always been passionate about food and I felt that this competition would help me build my career and relationships in the industry," Ashleigh said.
"I've been experimenting with food since I was young and have always known I wanted to be a chef. If you're not proud to serve a dish, then re-evaluate."
Ashleigh encouraged other young people interested in pursuing a career in the culinary industry to follow their dreams.
"I really love creating food and working with flavour. It's a hard industry but if you have the passion for it, there's no reason why you can't. It's constantly changing with food trends, flavours and ideas.
"You never really stop learning ... there are so many different cuisines."
The Maitland apprentice chef will now take on the kitchen battle at Fine Food Australia in Sydney in September, where one winner will take out Golden Chef of the Year and a $10,000 cash prize.
"It has never been more important to come together to support our industry, inspire young talent and provide key skills for them to succeed in their careers," Executive Chef and Nestlé Professional head judge Mark Clayton said.
"It's a chance for young chefs to step out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves. Ashleigh proved her cooking passion and delivered standout dishes."
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