Southbank chef wins top prize in prestigious gastronomic award

Carol Saffer

Kimberly Tang, a young chef and Southbank resident, has earned the Gold Medal Chef of the Year Award at the 2021 Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award culinary competition.

Around 100 talented young chefs competed in regional competitions in Australia and New Zealand during 2021, with 11 finalists achieving a place in the grand final at the William Angliss Institute in the CBD.

Ms Tang and the other finalists competed in a virtual grand final format. The three courses they created were live streamed to a panel of remote judges who calibrated the results.

As a previous finalist in the 2016 and 2017 Awards, Ms Tang said, “I love the thrill of this competition, and it’s true that if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”

“Never give up because anything is possible; it’s what you make of every opportunity that counts.”

She has also competed for Australia in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or and Chaine des Rotisseurs competitions.

Ms Tang said, “my experiences in Golden Chefs have taught me a lot, helping me improve my skills, organisation and knowledge in a short and intense timeframe.”

Her gold medal-winning three-course menu started with a mushroom ravioli entrée with onion and horseradish jelly, mushroom and black garlic parcel, asparagus, pickled foraged mushrooms, yuzu gel, black garlic tuile, and ponzu emulsion.

The main course was a Hainanese style chicken with black garlic emulsion, mushroom pearl barley, crispy chicken skin, Negi oil, baby onions, shitake, and smoked charcoal pepper dust.

Wrapping up the meal, a peaches and strawberries cream Zen Garden dessert included mascarpone cremieux, black garlic and chocolate soil, matcha sponge, mushroom meringue, coconut lotus cookie, umeboshi compressed white peaches, strawberries, grapes, and yuzu gel.

“I really went all out to stay true to myself this year, drawing on traditional concepts from my heritage and then taking them to a new place with interesting technical applications,” Ms Tang said.

Executive chef and Nestlé professional head judge Mark Clayton said the award was designed to allow young chefs to step out of their comfort zone and test themselves against equally qualified finalists.

Ms Tang wowed the judges with her technical skills. 

“We attracted an outstanding level of chef talent, and the top spot was closely contested with an unprecedented five gold medals awarded,” Mr Clayton said.

“Kimberly produced a fantastic menu that took traditional ideas and modernised them, executed to a level not seen for a long time.”

Ms Tang took home a $10,000 cash prize and dining vouchers donated by Best Restaurants Australia.

She has worked in the kitchens at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Melbourne and Nobu at the Crown Casino complex and will soon take on the role of sous chef at the recently opened Society in Collins St •

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