A chef who studied hospitality at Wentworth Falls TAFE will put his culinary skills to the test against Australia and New Zealand's top young chefs in October.
Jaadyn Byrne, who was raised in Lithgow, is one of 10 chefs in the grand final of the Nestle Golden Chef's Hat Award, to be held in Sydney on October 14.
The 23 year old currently works at Cirrus Dining in Sydney, and has worked at high-end Sydney restaurants Sepia, Rockpool 1989 and Catalina Rose Bay.
He drew on skills gained at Wentworth Falls TAFE and within the industry, to create a dish which drew praise from the judges, earning him grand final entry.
His dish was skin-charred blue mackerel with Jerusalem artichokes and beetroot pickled apples.
"I love blue mackerel when it's been charred. It's something I instantly went to," Mr Byrne said.
"The Jerusalem artichokes helped elevate the dish and added a creaminess and richness."
Due to coronavirus restrictions, Mr Byrne created the dish and then sent in a video showcasing the masterpiece.
Mr Byrne heard about the competition via friends, and decided to enter when his hours were cut right back early in the pandemic.
Executive chef and Nestlé professional head judge Mark Clayton said: "We're really impressed by each and every chef for having the courage to give it a go with their video submissions, presenting themselves and their food to a high standard. We promised to standby our young chef community and our judges have been truly impressed by the level of creativity demonstrated and commitment from the chefs this year. It has been outstanding."
For the grand final the chefs will be cooking a three course meal from separate kitchens. In August they were given a produce list, providing plenty of time to get their creative juices flowing.
The entree must be vegan and contain pumpkin. Mr Byrne is contemplating a dish containing charred pumpkin to replicate the texture of caviar, and pumpkin gnocchi with a pumpkin juice sauce infused with herbs and coconut oil.
The main course must contain chicken and black garlic paste, and dessert just needs to be a sweet dish.
Raised by a single mum, Mr Byrne was cooking dinner from age 10.
"The more I cooked, the more I liked cooking," he said.
While Mr Byrne doesn't have a favourite dish, he loves cooking with fresh ingredients.
"Most of the time I just enjoy going shopping on the day of and finding things that look fresh and that look good to me," he said.
"I enjoy challenging myself to cook and trying different flavours."
He's grateful for any new skills he can glean from other chefs.
"I've gotten an array of training from various chefs in different cuisines. The bigger the kitchen the more chefs I can learn from," Mr Byrne said.
The winner of the competition will be awarded a $10,000 cash prize to further their culinary career.