With a 55-year legacy that involves pitting top young chefs from around the country against one another in a live cookoff, the Nestlé Golden Chefs Hat Award is one of Australia’s top culinary competitions. In 2020, the event expanded to take in chefs from New Zealand. That change was fortuitous for Sam who was ultimately awarded the prestigious top spot in the competition from a pool of the best and brightest up and coming culinary talent New Zealand and Australia have to offer.
Sam says the response from friends and family to his win was overwhelming and gave him a great sense of pride in what he had achieved.
“Everyone was overjoyed with the result. My girlfriend who had supported and stood by me throughout the gruelling training process was particularly delighted that all of my hard work had finally paid off.”
Since the conclusion of the culinary competition, Sam has found himself immersed in his position at the Park Hyatt, where he spends his days working on new and exciting culinary dishes for the menu.
Sam says he is also incredibly passionate about eventually pursuing a career overseas, where he hopes to work with the industry’s most talented and experienced chefs from across the globe.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic posing a significant dilemma to the culinary industry, Sam believes that chefs and restaurants have been quick to adapt to the challenge head on.
“Whether it’s implementing a delivery service, utilizing more local produce or simplifying the menu, the response from the industry as a whole has been incredible. Chefs and restaurants have adapted and will continue to bounce back stronger than ever in the future.”
Back in the kitchen, Sam says he’s excited about the autumn and winter months ahead. With the weather starting to getting cooler this time of year, chefs are turning their attention to hearty, warm dishes that make the most of available produce. “The use of vegetables such as sunchoke and celery will help to add depth to those dishes, while slow cooked braised meats and delicious gamey meats will also come to the fore.” Sam says.
“There’s nothing better than experimenting with and tweaking a menu. My position in helping with menu development has given me an amazing level of freedom to expand my culinary repertoire and cook a diverse range of dishes.”
Sam states there will be an emphasis on where much of this produce is sourced from, with many customers increasingly interested in the farm to table process. Looking to the future, Sam is motivated to keep expanding his horizons and building on his culinary skills.
Sam is currently in the running to receive a Young Ambassador Chef Award! See his creative lamb dish he made with beeswax! For more information on the Nestlé Golden Chefs Hat Award you can follow @nzbeeflambchefs and to follow chef Sam at @sam_heaven.
With the Golden Chefs Hat Award 2021 now on the horizon, he encourages any young chefs interested in showcasing their culinary abilities and skills to pick up the challenge and throw themselves headfirst into the competition.
“The Golden Chefs Hat Award was a truly humbling experience. It taught me that with enough practice and perseverance and by cooking the food I love I could achieve top results in a highly competitive event.”
Sam’s message to aspiring chefs is to work hard and strive for success.
“Hone your skills, practice, practice and then practice some more. Don’t shy away from competition and look for every avenue to improve and you will achieve your best. A dream is just a dream unless you actively choose to turn it into reality.”
For more information on the Nestle Golden Chefs Hat Award, click here.