Blaze Young, Nieuw Ruin | Fremantle, WA
Get the roly-poly prawn toasts. Get the tuna crudo with black fig and sesame oil. Get the curried fries. Get it all if you dare. At carefree Freo wine bar Nieuw Ruin, Blaze Young is cooking some of the west's most intriguing, retro-leaning food and making it fiendishly easy to stay for one more. Best of all, she's also overseeing the cooking at new Northbridge bar Edward & Ida's, giving eaters even more opportunities to scope an emerging star on the rise.
In short: Nieuw-school old-school.
Lauren Kinne, Adelita Wine Bar | Brisbane, QLD
Originally from Tasmania, chef Lauren Kinne moved to Brisbane after completing her apprenticeship. Stints at top restaurants followed, with her most recent position as sous chef of the closed fine-diner, Elska. Now based at Adelita Wine Bar in Brisbane's bayside suburb of Wynnum, she's shining in her first role as head chef. From a luxe choux bun filled with lobster head mousse, to a textbook duck terrine enclosed in puff pastry, locals are glad she made the move north.
In short: Tassie's loss is Brissie's gain.
Mino Han, Alt Pasta Bar | Melbourne, VIC
Mino Han is one of those "overnight success" stories where the success is years in the making. His CV includes stints in storied regional diners such as South Australia's Appellation, building towards the opening of Melbourne's Alt Pasta Bar. His work here brings freshness and vigour, a newness to a crowded market. It's Han's love letter to a revered classic, one also unafraid to go its own way.
In short: A breakthrough star takes his spotlight.
Ollie Wong-Hee, Bar Heather | Byron Bay, NSW
Having honed his skills in some of the country's most celebrated kitchens – Ester, Franklin, and Sixpenny among them – Ollie Wong-Hee has made his headlining debut at Byron Bay's Bar Heather. The flavour gauge is turned to "high" on even the smallest plates, and while Wong-Hee's classic skill and broad experience are evident across the menu, it's the touches drawn from his Southeast Asian heritage that make this cooking feel autobiographical and deeply personal.
In short: Cooking from the heart.