Alanna Sapwell
Alanna Sapwell Contributed

Former Gympie chef crowned nation's biggest emerging talent

FORMER Gympie chef Alanna Sapwell was last night named the Unearthed Next Gen Chef in Australia's most prestigious food industry event.

Alanna Sapwell in the Young Chef national cookoff.
Photo Contributed
Alanna Sapwell in the Young Chef national cook-off. Contributed

The former Gympie apprentice was awarded at a gala ceremony at the State Theatre in Sydney in the 2019 delicious. Harvey Norman Produce Awards. The award recognises the best talent amongst the young chefs who are making their mark on the Australian dining scene and whose menus focus on showcasing local and regional produce.

READ MORE: Alanna flies the flag for women

Alanna's rise to the top has not been instant - in 2013 she was one of 10 finalists, and the only female finalist, in the national finals of the Australian Young Chef of the Year competition in Sydney.

Gympie's Alanna Sapwell with other national finalists in the 2013 Australian Young Chef of the Year competition in Sydney.
Photo Contributed
Gympie's Alanna Sapwell with other national finalists in the 2013 Australian Young Chef of the Year competition in Sydney. Contributed

She began her career in 2004 under the guidance of Gympie chef Paul Jones at Kingston House and after two years she moved to the Sunshine Coast and worked under David Rayner at The Riverhouse.

N23754   25/10/2009Young chefs at Coconut Grove in Sunshine Beach Damon Porter, Alanna Sapwell and Simon Mercer.Photo: John  McCutcheon.
Young chefs at Coconut Grove in Sunshine Beach Damon Porter, Alanna Sapwell and Simon Mercer. John McCutcheon/N23754

Alanna won the Queensland Apprentice Chef of the Year at this time.

Once qualified she travelled to Italy to master Italian cooking techniques and methods and worked for most of the year at La Decima Musa as Sous Chef before heading off to Japan as head chef at Morino Lodge.

Business Beat.  Gympie Pines Golf Club.  Paul Jones
Photo Tanya Easterby / The Gympie Times
Paul Jones Tanya Easterby

In 2010 Alanna found work as head chef at Maison de Provence and since 2012 has been head pastry chef at Urbane in Brisbane where she runs four restaurants from the same kitchen.

Some of Australia's most renowned chefs and food industry leaders joined the delicious. team and finalists at the annual awardsceremony. Now in its 14th year, the delicious. Harvey Norman Produce Awards celebrate the country's new, innovative, native and consistently outstanding Australian ingredients grown, caught, sourced or produced with dedication, passion, knowledge and regard for the environment.

Social photos at The Dish, from left is Paul Jones with Jon Ewens and Adam Rensonnet.   Photo Contributed
Paul Jones with Jon Ewens and Adam Rensonnet.

delicious. editor-in-chief Kerrie McCallum said:

"The delicious. Harvey Norman Produce Awards not only influence what you may see on restaurant menus for the next year to come, but most importantly give credit to the people who care for the produce that lands on our plates.

"It has never been more important to get behind our farmers and small producers. They need our help. I thank all of the judges for the time and passion they give to these awards, and congratulations to this year's winners.”

Seventeen awards, 16 trophies, and 30 gold medals were presented, with each of the winners across the four major categories (From the Dairy, From the Earth, From the Paddock and From the Sea) decided by the national judging panel, and considered for the overall Producer of the Year Award presented by Harvey Norman, which was last night awarded to Bruce Collis for his Seasonal Wild Caught Fish (Victoria).

Harvey Norman executive chairman Gerry Harvey said:

"Congratulations to all the winners of the delicious. Harvey Norman Produce Awards. Luckily I didn't have to be on the judging panel. It would be almost impossible to determine whose produce is the best - the standard and quality of the finalists' produce is extraordinary.

"Tonight we applaud the winners - you are truly the best of the best, but tomorrow we need to turn our applause into action.

"We need to buy from these wonderful producers and all the finalists. Do our homework; who do they supply and where are they stocked? We need to build their market - it will not only raise the standard of the food served on our kitchen and restaurant tables, it will improve our health. It is that important.

"Fresh produce is everything - if it is locally grown, even better. Our quality of life depends on the skill and experience of our producers - without them our markets, restaurants, supermarkets and kitchen tables are empty.

"Our Harvey Norman partnership with the delicious. Produce Awards is a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate those who make food and cooking possible. Top-quality produce provides nutrition as well as the pleasure of cooking for family and friends. However, the contribution of our producers runs deeper - farmers and their produce create jobs in the journey from paddock to plate and improve our community health standards.

"Our economy and Australian way of life depends on the extraordinary contribution of our producers.”

A series of special awards are presented by a panel of expert critics. These awards included: Best New Product (awarded to Tuerong Farm Premium Stoneground Flour Victoria), Outstanding Native Producer (awarded to Clarence Slockee & Christian Hampson, Yerrabingin NSW), Unearthed Next-Gen Chef (awarded to Alanna Sapwell of ARC Dining Qld) and Outstanding Region presented by Huon Salmon (awarded to Scenic Rim Qld).

New to the awards in 2019 is Outstanding Viticulturist, won by Melissa Brown of Gemtree Wines SA, and a special award that reiterates the importance of supporting Australian farmers, Outstanding Innovation, Sustainability & Community presented by Thankful was won by Charlie Arnott.

The third annual Alla Wolf-Tasker Good Food Matters Scholarship - which may be used for educational travel, 'staging' with other practitioners, and relevant educational courses and workshops or similar - was awarded to The Oyster Province TAS.

The delicious. Harvey Norman Produce Awards not only champion the best Australian produce, but, importantly the people behind it, thanks to a passionate network of food industry experts who nominate outstanding produce and producers from all over Australia, and the insight of the National Judging Panel (pictured below, from left: Andrew McConnell, Guillaume Brahimi, Peter Gilmore, Christine Manfield, Alla Wolf-Tasker, Matt Moran, Neil Perry, Maggie Beer, Shannon Bennett and Colin Fassnidge) and critics panel.

delicious. Harvey Norman Produce Awards National Judge Neil Perry said:

"It was an honour to be a part of the delicious. Harvey Norman Produce Awards National Judging Panel. The calibre of produce this year was nothing short of incredible, making the task of judging especially difficult. It is always wonderful to see innovative producers dedicated to creating outstanding produce that is not only world-class but sustainable on the environment from which it grows and depends. Congratulations to all the winners and gold medallists.”

The 2019 delicious. Harvey Norman Produce Awards VIP event was hosted by delicious. senior editor Matt Preston, and guests were treated to a bespoke menu created by the joint culinary excellence of five of QT Hotel's renowned executive chefs. In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, the menu was designed and curated by QT Sydney executive chef, Michael Box, and inspired by 2019 winners' and gold medallists' produce.

The Dairy station was prepared by QT Melbourne's Andy Harmer, Earth prepared by QT Perth's Nic Wood, Paddock prepared by QT Canberra's Josh Smith-Thirkell and Sea prepared by QT Gold Coast's Adam Lane.

Guests enjoyed wines from Qantas Wine and Four Pillars cocktails. National Judges and VIP guests stayed at QT Sydney.

The full list of winners and gold medallists is presented in the September 2019 issue of delicious. on sale Thursday, August 22, and on