Restaurant Awards

Best New Talent 2019: the finalists

If the next generation of Australian cooking talent is anything to go by, the future of food is in safe hands. Meet our finalists for the Best New Talent award.

Ali Currey-Voumard of The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery in Tasmania, is one of our finalists for the Best New Talent Award 2019
Ali Currey-Voumard

ALI CURREY-VOUMARD, THE AGRARIAN KITCHEN EATERY, NEW NORFOLK, TAS

At age 15 Ali Currey-Voumard did a deal with Rodney Dunn, owner of The Agrarian Kitchen cooking school. She'd swap working in the school's gardens for a cooking class. The deal was done, and she then continued working the gardens as she started her apprenticeship, forging an affinity for the locally produced. In a testament to the "get them while they're young" approach, Currey-Voumard returned to the Agrarian fold after several years in Melbourne working for Andrew McConnell's group and staging her own collaborations with producers, artists and winemakers. She nailed The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery brief from the start, nimbly adjusting her menus to what was being grown and produced locally, creating dishes that thrill as much with their comfort and humility as they do their wit and sparkle. And she's just getting started.

In short: Exciting times ahead.

OLIVER EDWARDS, THE SUMMERTOWN ARISTOLOGIST, ADELAIDE HILLS, SA

Oliver Edwards
Oliver Edwards

Curiosity drives Oliver Edwards to get his hands dirty. He left Cumulus Inc to dig for vegetables on an Adelaide Hills farm, then find inventive ways to present them as star attractions at The Summertown Aristologist. Hands-on learning extends to forming a co-operative with a gang of Adelaide chefs to share ideas and knowledge about making their own smallgoods. Edwards is also a co-author for Good Fish Bad Fish, a website that explains seafood sustainability practices and buying tips. Such incisive thinking about food informs striking authenticity and integrity on the plate, capturing supreme freshness and vitality.

In short: Embracing flavour from the ground up.

LOUIS COUTTOUPES, BAR ROCHFORD, ACT

Louis Couttoupes
Louis Couttoupes

After ditching the bureaucracy, Louis Couttoupes joined Bar Rochford in early 2016. He swiftly progressed from plongeur to chef at Rochford, the saloon named Bar of the Year in our last awards. Couttoupes has locavore street cred, bringing in seasonal produce from his own nearby plot and tapping close relationships with local organic producers. He embraces experimentation and cultural diversity, ripening plantains in the sun and serving them caramelised alongside yoghurt and chamomile flowers, and reimagining ajapsandali – a kind of ratatouille of the northern Caucasus – as a complement for burrata. His salt-and-vinegar potato galette, meanwhile, is simply God's gift to bar snackers: layers of super crisp and tender potato splashed with vinegar and a dusting of smoky bush-tomato powder.

In short: Let's hear it for the bold career leap.

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