Winner: Alanna Sapwell, Saint Peter
Alanna Sapwell has logged time in kitchens in Italy and Japan as well as criss-crossing Queensland and at every stop, she’s been adding to her cache of talents. “There’s no job too small. I can remember [a young chef] complaining to me at 1am that they’ve done the hard yards and now only want to do specific jobs. I was cleaning the staff toilet at the time! Don’t run before you can walk. Being in this industry is a marathon, so spend time learning the basics properly.” Right now you can find Sapwell going hammer and tongs in the small, all-fish kitchen at Saint Peter, where head chef Josh Niland is helping Sapwell hone her seafood skills to a keen edge. “Fish is unforgiving. It relies heavily on the skill of the chef and how it is handled from the get go, which is why I’m determined to focus on it.” And while Niland’s mentorship allows him to hand down the skills he learned at the panhandle of seafood legends like Steve Hodges and Peter Doyle, his guidance goes beyond the burners: “He’s teaching me the nuts and bolts of how to run a restaurant, so I can open up something of my own.