Gagebrook check savours sweet taste of success

AN apprentice chef from Gagebrook has made his culinary mark, winning a bronze medal in the third-year apprentice category of the Australian culinary federation (ACF) competition.

Anthony McCallum was one of only three Tasmanian chefs selected to represent the State in the annual one-day contest, held in Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast.

Anthony McCallum at work.
Anthony McCallum at work.

Accompanied by a first-year apprentice from Henry Jones Art Hotel in Hobart and a second-year apprentice from Saffire on Tasmania’s east coast, the Gagebrook chef was flying the flag high for the northern suburbs.

While Anthony has only been cooking professionally for two years, he has already had an impressive culinary journey, with his recent success in the ‘cook off’ taking the icing on the cake.

“It was such a huge honour to be called to compete in the Australian culinary federation competition,” Anthony said.

“I went into it with no expectations – except to do what I enjoy doing best. So winning bronze was definitely a surprise,” he said.

Competing against 2000 other apprentice chefs for the coveted title, Anthony cooked his way through a gruelling three-hour event where he had to prepare an omelette and four main courses using a selection of ingredients and sponsored produce.

Marks were awarded for presentation, kitchen skills, hygiene and taste by a panel of scrupulous judges.

“Although making an omelette sounds easy, it was actually very daunting to do it according to competition standard,” Anthony said.

“The judges walking around the room holding clipboards and looking over your shoulder didn’t make things any less intimidating!”

“The competition itself was very tight. Looking back, I’ve realised I made a few really simple mistakes because of the time pressures.”

He has also had the opportunity to learn from the industry’s elite, having undertaken work experience in London and Hong Kong at leading Michelin star restaurants.

Anthony and his wife Erica jointly own and operate The Hilltop Granton, a popular function centre, bar and restaurant overlooking the picturesque River Derwent.

While he is not ruling out the prospect of an international career, for the moment, his business back home is his first priority.

“Since travelling overseas I’ve started being more creative with my cooking and open to experimentation,” Anthony said.

“I’m integrating a lot of multicultural flavours to my dishes while still focusing heavily on local produce.

“Tasmania has amazing fresh, natural produce, quality ingredients and exceptional chefs – ranking its cuisine among the best.”