Best Chef in Australia – Names & Background
When you combine good food with sustainable production, concern for the environment, love for culture and innovation, you get the Australian culinary scene. Read on to find out why these chefs, in their own way, deserve to be called the best chef in Australia.
It won't be fair not to mention Stephanie Alexander when talking about the best chef in Australia.
Although she never originally intended to work with food professionally (she studied to be a librarian), her mother's love for culinary culture greatly influenced her as a young girl.
She started her fist restaurant, Jamaica House, at 24 years of age. Her next restaurant, Stephanie's Restaurant opened in 1976 and operated for 21 years.
Stephanie received the Medal of the Order of Australia award for her contribution to the hospitality industry in Australia. Looking back at how her mother's love for cooking influenced her, Stephanie started the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to teaching children how to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, good food.
She has also published a number of cookbooks, the most famous being the Cook's Companion, which is an alphabetical guide to cooking and ingredients.
What were you doing at the age of four?
Peter Gilmore was attending his first cooking class. At 16, he became an apprentice cook and moved out to the UK in his twenties to continue working as a cook. He came back to Australia and continued developing his style, which he got recognition for in 2000 with a glowing review from a food reviewer in the Sidney Morning Herald.
He is now the executive chef at two of Australia's leading restaurants: Quay restaurant in The Rocks and Bennelong at the Sidney Opera House. With Gilmore at the helm, Quay has received a number of awards, including Three Chefs Hats for fourteen years consecutive, as well as being named Restaurant of the Year five times in the Sidney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.
Gilmore is passionate about gardening and his cuisine is inspired by nature. He collaborates with local farmers and fishermen to produce and frequently experiments with different varieties of natural products. He is a frequent guest chef on Master Chef, and famously created the Snow Egg, which was the ultimate challenge in the second season of the series.
It cannot be denied that Asian cuisine has been very influential in Australian cooking. With her Chinese background, Kylie Kwong is the best chef in Australia with regards to blending Chinese recipes with Australian products and culinary culture.
Learning Cantonese cooking as a child gave her a firm foundation which she built up working at Wockpool, Manfredi, and Rockpool. In 2000, she co-founded her own restaurant, Billy Kwong, together with celebrity chef Billy Granger.
In 2005, the restaurant committed to only using biodynamic and organic food and serving Fair Trade coffee, tea, and chocolate as part of their commitment to the environment and sustainable farming. In recognition of these environmental initiatives, the restaurant was awarded the Sustainability Award in 2009 by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.
The founder of the Rockpool brand started his culinary career as a front of house employee in Sails restaurant in McMahons Point.
His great love for cooking got him a role in the kitchen, and by the time he was turning 24, he was rubbing shoulders with the greats in the industry- Steve Manfredi, Gay Bilson, Damien Pignolet, Stephanie Alexander, and David Thompson.
In 1986, he started his own business, the Blue Water Grill, and his star has risen ever since. He hosts a number of television programs and has authored four cookbooks so far.
You probably know him from TV shows like The Great Australian Bake Off, Paddock to Plate, and The Chopping Block.
Matt Moran began as an apprentice at La Belle Helene, one of the top restaurants in Sidney at the time. He worked his way up to become the head chef, before becoming an entrepreneur and starting his first restaurant in 1991.
He is the force behind some of the best restaurants in Australia such as Aria Sidney, North Bondi Fish, and Chiswick.
Moran's upbringing in a rural dairy farm can be seen in his love for fresh, locally produced, and seasonal ingredients. He was the brains behind the ‘paddock to plate' concept in Australia, which encourages people to be aware of the origin of the food on their plate.
He maintains a hands-on approach in his restaurants and oversees the food and menu to guarantee quality at all times.
McCaskill began her apprenticeship in 2005 under Chef Teage Ezard at Ezard restaurant, and her career since then has been littered with awards.
During her stint as Tetsuya's Chef de Partie, the restaurant was ranked position 9 on the San Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurant's list. She was also named the 2020 Electrolux Young Chef of the Year while she was there.
Her first venture on her own was the Pot by Emma McCaskill, which also won a number of awards. In 2019, she took her Midas touch to Sparkle, which was awarded the Best New Restaurant in the Delicious Hottest 100. In 2020, she co-founded Chefs on Wheels, a home meal delivery service, with other restaurateurs.
Everybody loves a good dessert. Adriano Zumbo loved desserts as a boy and was often seen amongst the cake mixes in his parent's supermarket.
His love for desserts didn't end there, and he grew up to study as a pastry chef in Australia and France under great names such as Ramon Morato, Neil Perry, and Pierre Herme. When it comes to desserts, he definitely makes the cut for the best chef in Australia.
He was relatively unknown before he appeared on Master Chef as a guest chef in 2009 and challenged the contestants to prepare a croquembouche, after which he became a household name.
Although they have different ways of doing things and come from diverse backgrounds, these chefs make the Australian culinary scene what it is: amazing.