TAFE NSW/HCA Scholarship Winners Announced

TAFE NSW and Hunter Culinary Association (HCA) scholarships celebrate the region’s best apprentice chefs and front of house professionals for 2019

Three stars of the Hunter’s incredible hospitality industry were shining extra brightly last Tuesday when the winners of the highly anticipated TAFE NSW and Hunter Culinary Association (HCA) annual scholarships were announced at an awards ceremony held to celebrate the best apprentice chefs and front of house professionals for 2019.


Entrants pitted their skills against one another during a series of interviews, cooking assessments and challenges that saw them battle it out for three fiercely contested awards:


• The Brett Graham Scholarship

• First Creek Wines Front of House Scholarship

• Hunter Culinary Association Rising Star Award


Apprentice chef David Gleadhill of Muse Restaurant (pictured) was named winner of the prestigious $10,000 Brett Graham Scholarship. Patrick Hester of Yellow Billy Restaurant took out the First Creek Front of House Scholarship and the Rising Star Award was presented to Hannah McDowell of Margan Restaurant.


Designed to foster the talent of young local apprentice chefs, the $10,000 Brett Graham scholarship gives David a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly to London and work alongside Brett Graham at The Ledbury in London’s Notting Hill, which is currently in the World’s Top 100 Best Restaurants list. Now in its 17th year, the Brett Graham Scholarship is a partnership between the Hunter Culinary Association and TAFE NSW and is named after Novocastrian Brett Graham, who is one of TAFE NSW’s most successful alumni.


The three Brett Graham Scholarship finalists were selected from an initial group of talented apprentices. Each created, prepared and cooked a menu based on ingredients selected by Brett Graham, while also managing and directing a kitchen ‘support team’ of apprentices.


The individual courses were served to industry guests and the panel of expert judges, which included Nik Hill, head chef at The Old Fitzroy Hotel Woolloomooloo, Margan head chef Thomas Boyd, who was the winning chef as part of this year’s Hunter Culinary Association ‘Ledbury All Star’ Food Fight team, alongside local food journalist Judith Whitfield from the Herald.


TAFE NSW Commercial Cookery Teacher and head judge Tracey Amos said that once again the dishes produced by all entrants were of an ‘exceptionally high’ standard.


‘Each of our finalists really understood just how vital it is to use quality produce and play with flavour to create subtle and memorable combinations in their dishes.’


‘Our panel of judges was fantastic and while the standard of all entrants was high we all agreed that David was the deserving winner.’


The First Creek Front of House Scholarship saw ten hospitality professionals compete this year for the top prize.


After a comprehensive judging process Patrick Hester took home the coveted $5,000 Scholarship, which is to be used for career development opportunities. As a very close second, Alexandra Clarke from Muse Restaurant was awarded a wine training course through the Get Wine Smart WSET program; and in third place, Anthony Miller of Restaurant Mason was awarded a wine decanter.


Hannah McDowell was awarded the Hunter Culinary Association Rising Star Award. This award recognises the potential of a young hospitality industry professional, encouraging them to continue education with a fully funded Diploma of Hospitality Management from TAFE NSW.


Hunter Culinary Association Chairman Gus Maher said the high calibre of all scholarship applicants meant this was the most competitive year yet.


‘Once again, everyone who entered performed extremely strongly which is great news for the future of the Hunter region’s culinary industry,’ he said.


‘It’s also evidence of the dedication and focus of those working within the industry.’