Darren Purchese (Burch & Purchese)
It was love that brought the British-born Darren to Australia. Darren was already a renowned pastry chef working in prestigious kitchens across England and France when in 2004, he was invited to appear at a Brisbane Masterclass Weekend. It was his first ever visit to Australia, and the first time he met his future wife and partner in B&P, Melbourne chef and restaurateur, Cath Claringbold. A year later, Darren was here to stay. He worked as a pastry chef at iconic Australian restaurants, Vue de monde in Melbourne and Bennelong at the Sydeny Opera House among them, before opening Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio in 2011. Since then Darren has become a fixture on must-see-TV Masterchef, and the author of three books – Sweet Studio, The Art of Divine Desserts, Lamingtons & Lemon Tart and, most recently, Chefs Eat Toasties Too.
Jacques Reymond (L'Hotel Gitan and Bistro Gitan)
In January 2014, after reaching the pinnacle of his career and receiving his 80th Hat, it was time to hand over the running of his Restaurant Jacques Reymond. Jacques is now a highly sought-after guest chef, consultant and ambassador of commercial events and products. Not one for rest, Jacques is continuing his support of the industry by focusing on sharing his experiences and knowledge with like-minded people. He is involved with the family’s two restaurants Bistro Gitan in Toorak Road and L’Hotel Gitan in Commercial Road. He also maintains a close relationship and consultancy with exclusive Turtle Island Resort in Fiji. In 2015 and 2016, he also consulted with The Auberge Group Nanuku Resort in Fiji and helped them win Best Fine Dining Restaurant in Fiji 2016. For the last two years he has also been a judge and mentor for the San Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year for Asia-Pacific region.
Adam D'Sylva (Coda and Tonka)
The co-owner and executive chef of CBD restaurants Tonka and Coda, Adam’s Indian-Italian heritage has given him a foundation in contrasting cuisines. With this and his formal training, he has become one of the best and more innovative chefs in Melbourne. Adam worked as head chef under the much awarded and respected Geoff Lindsay at Pearl Restaurant, one of Melbourne’s most highly regarded restaurants. He also became the first head chef at Longrain Melbourne for Martin Boetz. Adam won The Age 2008 Good Food Guide’s Young Chef of the Year and as part of his award travelled to New York to work with Thomas Keller at Per Se, arguably one of America’s best restaurants. Adam has also twice been the Victorian winner in the Lexus Young Chef of the Year award. In June 2009, Adam and his business partners, Kate and Mykal Bartholomew, opened Coda, followed by Tonka two years later.
Miguel Maestre (Maestre Family Food)
Having worked for many years in various kitchens around the world, Miguel Maestre is one talented Spaniard who has made Sydney his home. Born in Murcia in the south of Spain, his love for food was pre-determined from a young age. Miguel’s passion for food and life is infectious, and he has developed a talent for incorporating Spanish ingredients and cooking styles into his Australian menus. It is Miguel’s co-hosting role on TEN’s three-time Logie-winning show “The Living Room” that has catapulted him into the world of TV, working alongside Amanda Keller, Dr Chris Brown and Barry DuBois. Other TV credits include “Boys Weekend” (airing in more than 100 countries worldwide), “Miguel’s Tropical Kitchens” where he charms his way through the tropics of North Queensland, cooking with exotic ingredients in breathtaking locations, “Miguels Feasts” airing on Network Ten and internationally, and “Weekend Feasts” airing on Network Ten. Miguel is the author of two best-selling Spanish books, “Miguel’s Tapas” and “Spanish Cooking”. He is the owner of Maestre Family Food, one of Australia’s largest Spanish quality food importers and creator of “Paella a la Maestre Kit” and the first free-range “Chorizo a la Maestre” available in Australian supermarkets.
Victor Liong (Lee Ho Fook)
Victor Liong has made a name for himself as one of the inspiring young guns in the Australian food industry. The owner of Lee Ho Fook in Melbourne’s CBD, Liong’s exciting vision for Chinese-style cookery is being embraced by diners and chefs alike. With a talent for creating dishes that push the boundaries, and mentored by some of Australia’s food elite across his career, it’s difficult to not be caught up by Liong’s enthusiasm for cooking.