Apprentice seeks out master chef


Apprentice chef Maverick Cuthbert .
Apprentice chef Maverick Cuthbert .

Cuthbert has been selected to represent WA in the 2016 Fonterra Proud to be a Chef competition to be held in Melbourne next month.

The Challenger Tafe student was chosen as one of 34 finalists from more than 1000 applicants nationwide.

The competition is based on a mentoring program, designed to develop, recognise and reward the country’s top up-and-coming apprentice chefs.

The apprentice chefs will dine at Melbourne’s award-winning restaurants and receive mentoring from Australian culinary leaders, including executive chef at Sydney’s Shangri-la Hotel, Anna Polyviou, and head chef at Estelle in Melbourne, Josh Pelham.

They will also have the opportunity to tour Victoria’s dairy country, which will provide a platform to learn new skills in a series of culinary master classes.

Cuthbert said he was nervous, as the competition would be fierce.

At one point in the competition, the apprentices will go up against each other in a two-hour timed cook-off.

“I am confident about my dish and the taste combinations I’ve put together, but not overly confident as there will be 33 other talented apprentices competing,” he said.

Cuthbert submitted a dessert inspired by a decadent garden, featuring a selection of Valrhona and Belgian chocolates and balanced by a number of flavours to enhance the richness of the dish.

Each chef has the opportunity to showcase their creativity and technical talent when they present their original dish at the event.

The winner will receive $7500 to spend on an international culinary paid placement, tailored to their aspirations as a professional chef.

For Cuthbert it would mean the opportunity to work at his favourite chef Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant – Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – at Knightsbridge in London for 12 months.

“He thinks outside the box and creates culinary masterpieces,” he said. “He looks to the past for inspiration and I like that experimentation factor he brings to his cooking.”

Applicants were chosen based on their passion and commitment to food service and the quality of their original recipe.

Cuthbert said he drew on the skills he has learnt from some of Perth’s top chefs.

He started his apprenticeship at age 16 at Perth’s award-winning Print Hall restaurant in 2013. He then went on to learn the art of making desserts at Frasers Restaurant in Kings Park for 12 months.

For the final year of his apprenticeship, he is focusing on the fast-paced trend of smart casual dining at the historic Grosvenor Hotel.

“Being a chef is creative and you never stop learning,” he said. “Every day is different, always action packed and you never know who will walk through the door and eat your food.”