Ruby's Mount Kembla chef Jeremy Lackenby, 23, has used local Illawarra produce to win a gold medal and take out the Most Sustainable Approach Award at Australia's longest-running culinary competition.
Mr Lackenby represented NSW in the grand finals of the 2021 Nestlé Golden Chef's Hat Awards, where he battled it out in a virtual competition against the top 10 young chefs from Australia and New Zealand.
Each of the finalists competed simultaneously in commercial kitchens, with expert judges scoring their three-course meal against globally recognised culinary standards.
"I scored high 90s which was really good," he said.
In October Mr Lackenby competed in the WorldSkills national championships, which he described as an eye-opener and a great learning curve.
"This not only expresses me on a plate, but it gives everyone an insight into what Wollongong has to offer," he sad.
"With my three dishes I tried to bring as much earthy texture and colour to the table, using ingredients some may not have heard of before like mead, which is a fermented honey wine."
Mr Lackenby loves using local produce and foraging for the meals her prepares at Ruby's. It served him well when he was asked to prepare three meals from scratch in three hours using ingredients from the Illawarra.
"The entree had to be presented within the first hour," he said.
"I made a Japanese savoury egg custard using things like kombu, sea fennel and kelp which I foraged myself at Coledale Beach.
"The main course was a chicken dish and I used some fresh produce from Avondale Community Farm near Dapto where we have our own garden.
"I had to use Nestle products within those dishes as well and I used those to tie all the flavours together.
"With dessert I made up my own theme of honey and yoghurt.
"Our beekeeper in Bulli has a business called Southern Mead and Honey.
"I used different flavours of a mead, which is a fermented honey wine. I also used yoghurt from Pines Yoghurt in Kiama.
"As well as some fruity elements like fresh pear and different variations of honey."
Jeremy Lackenby's three course meal:
- Entrée - Kombu Chawanmushi, sea herbs, edamame, and yuzu ponzu.
- Main - Chicken, black garlic, mushroom, Avondale organics seasonal vegetables, and puffed multigrain.
- Dessert - Great Southern Mead and honey, pines yoghurt, pear, and oats.
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