Mark McManus, TAFE NSW Head Teacher Commercial Cookery with 2020 Brett Graham Scholarship winner Matthew Mirosevich and Gus Maher, Hunter Culinary Association Chairman. Picture: Supplied.
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Apprentice chef Matthew Mirosevich takes out 2020 Brett Graham Scholarship

Apprentice chef Matthew Mirosevich is bound for London after taking out top honours in the 2020 Brett Graham Scholarship.

Shortlisted from a group of seven apprentice chefs, Matthew was joined by fellow finalists Jayden Dann from EXP Restaurant and Samuel McKinnon from Muse Restaurant at a final cook-off showdown at Hamilton TAFE this week where the hopefuls were tasked with designing and cooking a menu based on ingredients selected by Brett Graham.

And in the end, it was Matthew’s entree of beetroot salad with a whipped onion, pancetta and fennel goat’s curd, a chicken ballotine main and prune and custard tart with cardamom and orange zest ice cream that won the judges hearts and palettes.

“It’s just amazing,” Matthew said of his win. “It’s just such a great foot in the door,” Matthew, who is currently learning his trade at The Signal Box said.

The scholarship, a collaboration between the Hunter TAFE Foundation and the Hunter Culinary Association is names after one of TAFE NSW’s most successful alumni and former Novocastrian Brett Graham

The $10,000 prize includes a Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery and a once-in-a-lifetime trip to London, to work with Brett in his award-winning businesses, including the Harwood Arms and The Ledbury.   

“It’s always been a goal of mine to work overseas so the opportunity to that and then come back to show everyone what I have learned over there is just amazing,” Matthew said.

Bistro Molines head chef Garreth Robbs, who won the scholarship in 2009, joined the judging panel for the 2020 iteration and said he was impressed with the quality of dishes from all finalists.

“The quality of dishes this evening was exceptional,” he said.  
 
“The brief embodied Brett’s signature classic combinations with innovative twists. This gave the finalists room to interpret the brief when designing their menus and feature their take on timeless classics.”

Gareth added that he still draws on the skills gained working with Brett in London.

“My time in London has impacted every aspect of my career. After nearly 11 years and now as a Head Chef, I’m still drawing on things I learnt for the first time,” he said.

Hunter Culinary Association Chair Gus Maher said the scholarship was a great way to advance food culture here in the Hunter Region.

“The Scholarship is a chance to refine skills and build connections that help launch successful careers,” he said. 
 
“Our Scholarship winners bring their experience back to the region, shaping innovation and further promoting the Hunter Region as a premier food destination.”