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Maitland’s Ashleigh Handsaker triumphs at Newcastle Cook-Off competition

Maitland’s Ashleigh Handsaker has emerged victorious in the Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Newcastle cook-off.

Held at the TAFE NSW Hamilton Campus, the competition saw the 21-year-old earning the highest score from the Nestlé Professional and Australian Culinary Federation judges with her exceptional two-course menu.

Ashleigh’s winning dishes showcased her creativity and technical prowess with a main course of roasted chicken and Swiss brown mushrooms, Buondi coffee cream, pepper berry pangratatto, poached leeks, Swiss chard salad, and MAGGI jus gras. For her second course, Ashleigh served up a of chocolate cream with rosella poached rhubarb, rhubarb sherry gel, and a white chocolate and macadamia nut crumb topped with fresh thyme.

Ashleigh’s Winning Dishes

This innovative use of ingredients and flavours secured her place in the national finals to be held at Melbourne’s Fine Food Australia Expo in September.

“All of this year’s Newcastle participants should be extremely proud of the creative, highly skilled and delicious meals that were prepared. It was an exceptional display of the local area’s culinary talent,” Australian Culinary Federation President for NSW, ACT and Regions, Julio Azzarello said.

“We were especially bowled over by Ashleigh’s dishes. Both her main and her dessert were well balanced and beautifully executed.”

It’s the fourth time Ashleigh has competed in the competition and her third time advancing to the national finals. As the regional winner, Ashleigh received a cookware package of her choice from SOLIDTEKNICS and a chef’s knife from KOI Knives.

“I entered the Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award as it is a great opportunity to push yourself and your skills,” Ashleigh, who is currently working at Muse Restaurant, said.

“It encourages you to do something new and creative and show who you are as a chef.”

Ashleigh will now compete against young culinary talent from around Australia and New Zealand at Melbourne’s Fine Food Australia Expo for the 2024 Nestlé Golden Chef crown.

For more information about the 2024 Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award visit