We’re proud to recognise and celebrate our past Golden Chefs who are making their mark in the industry, proving that hard work and dedication are key in the path to success.

Telina Menzies, Grand Finalist 2001 to 2003

Executive Chef, Australian Venue Co


Telina has a vast amount of experience, previously working in roles at The Publican Group, Create Food in London, Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre, and Hyatt Regency Perth.

“I took part in Golden Chef’s three times all up and ended up being a national finalist. The competition opened a lot of doors for me, meeting like-minded people and networking is a win in itself. It really puts you on a stage to get noticed. Performing under pressure is a key thing you take away.

I’m currently managing a portfolio of over 50 unique venues across VIC, WA and regional NSW for the Australian Venue Co – including Perth’s iconic Western suburb venue The Claremont Hotel.

I live and breathe what I do. It’s not just a job it’s my absolute passion. I get inspired to make every day better than the last, and am driven by training and developing the next generation of chefs.”

Telina Menzies
Richard Ousby

Richard Ousby, 2005 National Winner

Owner of Ousby Food


Richard has held roles previously at Stokehouse Restaurants, Quay, and Waterside Inn (UK).

“I know first-hand just how terrifying it can be to compete in a competition at this level as it highlights not only the skills you have, but also the skills you are lacking in, which is quite an exposing process in the early days of any career.

But for me, it was a real game changer. It’s a great way to improve and push yourself for bigger and better things. I found the experience one of the best foundations any aspiring young chef could hope for, it’s a real confidence booster."

Ben Devlin

Ben Devlin, 2005 National Winner

Owner & Executive Chef, Pipit Restaurant

Regional Restaurant of the Year, Good Food Guide 2022


Ben has previously worked in a diverse range of venues including Paper Daisy (Halcyon House), Esquire Restaurant (Brisbane), Noma (Copenhagen), and Urbane (Brisbane).
“Owning my own place has been a long-time career ambition, so it's been very satisfying to achieve that and open Pipit in 2019. Small business ownership is tough for lots of reasons, but we also get full creative freedom on our menu, format, hours, team and culture.  
I was really encouraged to participate in Golden Chefs by my boss at the time and it was a great experience and confidence boost in the start of my career that kept me interested in learning. It was the first time I was able to meet other peers and feel part of a bigger industry outside the one small kitchen I knew.”

Dylan Sanding, 2008 & 2009 National Finalist, 2010 Team Manager

Executive Chef, Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)


Dylan’s previous roles include the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC),St Kilda Venues (Encore), and AAMI Park.

“I came into my latest role last year. Successfully leading a sizeable team is all about culture and collaboration - building venues where staff feel they can be themselves. 

Giving back to the industry is really important to me. I’ve come a long way in my career and being able to provide mentorship to the younger chefs starting out is a real focus.

My Golden Chef’s experiences gave me the confidence to be creative and allow myself to be judged. The feedback you get from the judges helps you refine and keep upping your game.”

Dylan Sanding

Shane Middleton, 2009 & 2010 National Winner

Head Chef at The Royal Perth


Previously, Shane has been a Chef de Partie at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal London & Melbourne, Head Chef at Clarke's of North Beach, and Executive Sous Chef at QT Perth.

“As a chef you can basically see the world with your job as the skill set is so transferable. Going to London definitely had an impact, it made me grow as a chef and as a person. Not being surrounded my any of my peers made me realise it was my chance to make something of myself, by myself, and definitely got me to step out of my comfort zone."

Shane Middleton
Daniel Garwood

Daniel Garwood, 2013 National Winner

Head Chef at EVETT (Seoul, South Korea)


Daniel has held roles previously at Kadeau (Denmark), Sixpenny, Silvereye, Garagistes, and The Henry Jones Art Hotel.

“I was fortunate to begin my chef career working in some of the best restaurants in Tasmania. That gave me a solid foundation that enabled me to go on to work in incredible restaurants around the world, including Sweden, Italy, Belgium, UK, Denmark, and now South Korea."

"Growing up in Tasmania, I developed a love of foraging and all-natural ingredients which has proved to be a guiding path in my culinary journey. As head chef of a Michelin starred restaurant I continue from what I learned back home, constantly exploring the Korean landscape to source new ingredients and inspiration. My menu is focused on creating dishes that highlight Korean produce and showcasing them to their full potential."

Adelene Stahnke, 2015 & 2016 National Finalist

Head Chef at Untied


Adelene has held roles previously at Bang Street Food (Surry Hills), HOUSE of CRABS, and Tonka (Melbourne).

"My own personal definition of success is to truly enjoy what you do for work to the point where it doesn’t even feel like a job. Cooking has become a part of who I am, rather than what I have to do. Achievement to me is pushing through the grind, proving your grit and resilience, all whilst leading your team with encouragement and grace."

Adelene Stahnke
Abbey Wendland

Abbey Wendland, 2016 & 2017 National Winner

Sous Chef, Carrapateena Gold & Copper Mine


Abbey has previously had roles at Adelaide Oval and Glen Ewin Estate. 

“My teammate and I won Golden Chefs - the first time for South Australia in the competition’s history in 2016 - and then winning back-to-back in 2017 was an unreal experience. It was the ultimate privilege to mix with some of the best young chefs out there. The countless hours practising were well worth it, with two overseas prize trips we experienced to the USA and Vietnam.

I’ve always dreamed of moving back to the sheep and wheat farm that I grew up on to start a food business with my partner and that dream is slowly becoming a reality. Now living a remote 7 hours from Adelaide on the Eyre Peninsula life isn’t any slower. My passion for food can best be described as fresh, nutrient dense and local. 

I’m a keen gardener, growing lots of heirloom vegetables and breed heritage and rare chooks which results in beautiful farm fresh produce. This brings the paddock to plate ethos I love right to my doorstep. This will all be translated into the new business venture, and I’m stoked to see my ultimate goal unfold.” 

Ben Richards

Ben Richards, 2017 National Finalist

Chef de Partie at The Lane Vineyard


Ben has held roles previously at La Luna Bistro in Melbourne and Carrington Place in Newcastle.

"I believe that opportunities multiply as they are seized so I’m really focused on setting myself up with roles to learn and grow over the course of my career. Because of the high-pressure environment of the kitchen, you have to pay close attention to people’s productivity and performance to make sure everyone is working to their potential."

Praveen Rodrigo, 2017 National Finalist

Junior Sous Chef at Pullman Albert Park


Praveen has held roles previously at DoubleTree by Hilton Darwin and Hilton Melbourne South Wharf.

"My experience in Golden Chef’s was a game-changer. It gave me credibility in moving my career forward and the connections I made with other chefs was epic. My family are the best critics in the world and are the reason I cook great food. The day they got to see me run the pass in an open kitchen was a proud moment – they didn’t know at the time I’d just been promoted and was the youngest chef to be second in charge of the kitchen!"

Praveen Rodrigo
Ashleigh Otto Main

Ashleigh Otto, 2017 National Finalist

Head Pastry Chef at Pullman Cairns International


Ashleigh has worked her way up through the ranks at Pullman Cairns International as Demi Pastry Chef, Chef de Partie and now Head Chef.

"I don't stop learning and striving to develop myself, constantly educating my palette, skills and techniques. I love networking and bouncing ideas with other creative minds and I'm passionate about contributing to the community. Pastry is magic with endless creative possibilities. Everyday is a new day to learn, create and serve."

Tom Hitchcock, 2017 & 2018 Competitor

Head Chef at Spirit House


Previously, Tom has been Sous Chef at both Long Apron and Winston Pop Up Restaurant, Chef De Partie at Ricky’s and a Stage Chef at Brae.

“I was 14 when I first started in a kitchen, and I quickly worked out that I had a natural talent for cooking. My goals were set in stone once I started my apprenticeship; to become one of Queensland's best chefs and to be a Head Chef at the age of 27. I have just achieved both goals. I will continue supporting sustainability in the industry, which is something that’s very important to me.”

Tom Hitchcock
Eve Sheraton

Eve Sheraton, 2018 & 2020 National Finalist

Demi Pastry Chef at Brisbane Club


Eve has held roles previously at Kuhl-Cher, Restaurant Dan Arnold, and The Brisbane Club.

"The biggest thing for me being a female chef is investing in my career and learning from new experiences. It’s easy sometimes to get too competitive, compare yourself to others and lose yourself when you’re surrounded by so many talented people in the industry. At the end of the day, I have to have confidence in myself, be proud of my achievements and stay focused on where I’m going as a chef."

Giles Gabutina, 2019 National Winner

Head Chef, Cricca Restaurant


Giles has previously held roles at Saga, Bentley Restaurant & Bar,
Quay Restaurant and Tetsuya.

“I hold myself to very high standards and didn’t think I’d be able to hit the mark! Winning was so gratifying and definitely built my confidence in my abilities as a chef. It gave me validation to pave the way and develop my own unique style of cooking.

I’m now working alongside my best friend running our own restaurant, it’s surreal and a dream come true. Don’t get me wrong it’s been a long road to get here, but I’m truly grateful to have this opportunity and be part of something special.

You have to be prepared to put in the long hours and hard work to get a restaurant up and running, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Giles Gabutina

Maverick Cuthbert, 2019 & 2020 National Finalist

Executive Chef at South of Perth Yacht Club


Maverick has held roles previously at Ritz-Carlton Perth, Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, COMO The Treasury, and C Restaurant.

"Being a chef there is no better way to improve your technical skills than to compete. It has opened so many doors for me, including being selected into the Australian National Culinary Youth Team, achieving gold & bronze medals in Stuttgart Germany at the 2020 IKA Culinary Olympics, competing against the best junior chefs in the world - while competing and traveling overseas representing Australia and promoting Aussie produce

This experience has propelled my career so much that I have already achieved my goal of being an executive chef at only 24 years of age. It reads great on the CV and opens doors to work in any of the top restaurants and destinations across Australia and overseas, so the world really is your oyster."

Maverick Cuthbert
Kimberly Tang

Sam Heaven, 2020 National Winner (Inaugural New Zealand Winner)

Chef de Partie, Fat Duck, London


Sam has previously held roles at Oncore by Clare Smyth in Sydney and St Georges Restaurant in Hawkes Bay, Auckland. Representing New Zealand the first year we were part of the competition meant a lot to me in itself. Winning for my country, and especially as it was the first time, was a huge deal to me.

I’ve always been a competitive person, for example playing basketball representing NZ in high school. It’s definitely carried through for me into cooking. I challenge myself constantly in doing a task. Can I do it better next time? Can I do it better than the next person?

My experience in Golden Chefs definitely gave me a nudge in the right direction. It taught me to take a more methodical approach to my cooking, practice working clean and be really organised. Something that has definitely translated through to my fine dining career moves and aspirations.

Kimberly Tang

Kimberly Tang, 2021 National Winner

Sous Chef, Chef's Table (Azabu Group)


Kimberly has held roles previously at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Melbourne, Nobu, No.8 by John Lawson, and Crown Melbourne.

"The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Never give up because anything is possible, it’s what you make of every opportunity that counts. The experience of Golden Chef’s taught me a lot, it helped improve my skills, organisation and knowledge in a short and intense timeframe."