NEW TALENT: From left: Carool's Jayden Ross, Tweed Heads' Mac Palencia and eventual winner Lismore's Joe Carrall at the Lismore competition cook-off for the inaugural ETC Apprentice of the Year. Mr Carrall will compete against the winners of the other two rounds at the grand finale cook-off to be held in Coffs Harbour in July.
NEW TALENT: From left: Carool's Jayden Ross, Tweed Heads' Mac Palencia and eventual winner Lismore's Joe Carrall at the Lismore competition cook-off for the inaugural ETC Apprentice of the Year. Mr Carrall will compete against the winners of the other two rounds at the grand finale cook-off to be held in Coffs Harbour in July. Jackie Munro

Competition sizzles at cook-off

A LISMORE apprentice chef has claimed a coveted place in the ETC Apprentice of the Year grand final after whipping up his signature dish for a panel of judges.

In a public cook-off held at Lismore Shopping Square on Monday morning, Lismore's Bounty Motel apprentice chef Joe Carrall secured his place in the grand final cook-off to be held in Coffs Harbour in July.

Mr Carrall competed against fellow second year apprentices, South Tweed Sports' Mac Palencia and Carool's Summergrove Estate apprentice Jayden Ross.

The competition required the apprentices to create their own signature seafood dish, featuring Australian native foods.

Mr Carrall won over the judges with his lemon myrtle-scented barramundi with a rocket and pineapple salad, complete with a pepperberry and wild hibiscus vinaigrette.

Following the announcement of his win, Mr Carrall said the news hadn't quite sunk in but he was "pretty excited” ahead of the July competition, and said the public cook-off was vastly different to what he was used to.

"It was really different cooking in a situation like this,” he said.

"I'm used to being in the back of the kitchen, not out on display.”

The dishes were judged by local chefs, Cafe Cappello's Tamaya Rose, Lismore Worker's Club executive chef Philip McLoughlin and Stockpot Kitchen's Gray Stockdale.

Each of the finalists received a $150 gift voucher, while Mr Carrall took home an additional $150.

The inaugural ETC Apprentice of the Year competition was created by ETC Training Advisor and experienced chef Nick Philip.

"When you work as an apprentice chef your work routine consists of very repetitive tasks. It can become frustrating sometimes not to be able to express your creativity,” Mr Philip said.

"With this cook-off, I wanted to be able to give the apprentices a chance to have some fun and showcase their skills.”

Mr Philip said competitions are an essential part of the development of young chefs and said competitions "enable young chefs to perform in an environment that puts them up against their peers and out of their comfort zone, which is a great challenge”.

The Lismore Square cook-off served as the Lismore round of the competition, and Mr Carrall will compete against the winners from the Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour regional finals at the grand final cook-off.