Sweet Success for Research Apprentice in Culinary Competition

Holmesglen commercial cookery apprentice Xanda Brown has been named the overall student winner of this year’s coveted AUSTAFE Culinary Competition.

The first year apprentice from Research, who works at Mercer’s Restaurant in Eltham, took home a gold medal and the ultimate overall student winner prize in the AUSTAFE Victorian State Finals at Victoria University on June 28.

Xanda said the victory was even sweeter after the success of fellow Holmesglen apprentice and Mercer’s colleague Archer Houghton who took out the overall student winner accolade last year.

“It’s a great feeling and to be back-to-back on the trophy with Archer, the other apprentice at my work, is awesome,” he said.

Xanda thanked his Holmesglen teachers and team at Mercer’s who helped him develop ideas for the competition.

“Stephen Mercer, the owner of Mercer’s, (pictured above with Xanda) really encourages us and is a great mentor. There was a lot of bouncing back and forward of ideas with the team.

“A lot went into this competition. I was practising three times a week and every Monday night for six weeks I went to TAFE and did competition practice.

“But before that I had planned and prepared the competition dish at home and at work several times, so I had a good idea coming into it what was required. I’m really proud all the hard work paid off.”

Holmesglen was represented by nine students, seven apprentices and two culinary students. The TAFE received two of the three gold medals awarded at the event, along with three silver medals and three bronze medals.

Certificate IV Commercial Cookery student Thai Quyen took home a gold medal after delaying her flight back to Vietnam so she could compete.

Research apprentice wins - Cookery_Xanda-Brown-Gold-Medal
Xanda Brown holding his award

Organised by the Australian Culinary Foundation, the event is open to first, second and third year apprentices, as well as culinary students. Medals are awarded based on overall scores and an outright winner is determined by the highest score out of 100, judged by representatives from Victorian TAFEs and the industry.

Holmesglen Hospitality, Cookery and Bakery Assistant Manager Simon Buchner said Holmesglen students had performed exceptionally well in the competition over the past few years.

“These achievements are a testament to the dedication and hard work of our apprentices and the support they receive from their teachers and workplace mentors,” Mr Buchner said.

“We are extremely proud to help train such a high calibre of students year-in, year-out, particularly when so many of our apprentices are dedicated to furthering themselves to be the best they can be in this highly competitive industry.”

Winners from each state will go on to compete in the Tabasco National Apprentice Competition in September at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, as part of the ACF Culinary Challenge 2023 held at Fine Food Australia.