Mark Best

Mark Best started by discovering the stoves accidentally and ended up becoming an unquestionable symbol of the new Australian Cuisine.

Mark Best has won Chef of the Year in the annual Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, Restaurant of the Year in Australian Gourmet Traveler, Sydney Morning Herald, Time Out magazine and in the Restaurant and Catering Association’s Awards for Excellence. Marque also featured for three years running in the San Pellegrino & Restaurant Magazine’s-Worlds 50 Best commencing with the 2010 “Break through award” & held 3 Hats in the SMH Good Food guide for 10 years running.


Guided by a spirit of experimentation and a respect for the integrity of ingredients, Justin James has made a name for himself as one of the most exciting chefs working in Australia today. His latest venture, at Restaurant Botanic, showcases his dedication to providing a holistic dining experience, with a sense of attention and care evident not just in the food on the table, but through the service, ambience, and beyond. 

Favouring relaxed and accessible over stuffy and elaborate, James’ practice is defined by a light touch, allowing his ingredients’ natural flavours to be kept alive in each dish. He employs a vegetable-led approach, coupled with commitment to using locally-sourced and sustainable ingredients – an interest cultivated during his time as Executive Chef of Vue de Monde.

Originally from Detroit, James began his career in the United States, where he worked at Vermont mainstay Michael’s on the Hill, chef Dan Barber's ambitious farmstead restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and the legendary Eleven Madison Park in New York. After moving to Melbourne, he took a position with Vue de Monde and swiftly rose to the level of Executive Chef, overseeing the entire Vue Group. The only interruption to James’ stewardship of the Vue Group was for a stint in Copenhagen’s NOMA, after which he returned to Australia to concentrate on his own unique culinary vision.

That vision has been realised with Restaurant Botanic. Guided by seasonality, grounded in place, and with a refreshingly unpretentious approach to fine dining, James takes pride in giving guests a total experience that aligns with his cuisine.  

Since reopening under James' guidance in mid-2021, Restaurant Botanic has been named South Australia's Best Restaurant by Australian Gourmet Traveller and The Advertiser, received a rare five-star review in The Australian where critic John Lethlean called the restaurant “a revelation” and was listed as one of the country’s Hot 20 Restaurants by the national broadsheet.


A powerhouse and force of good is how best to describe Mandy Hall, - she wields an inspiring and completely engaging energy that's as captivating as it is honest.

With exceptional food knowledge and a deep love for industry, Mandy continues to shine the spotlight, championing and telling stories of our food industry from chefs and producers with a focus on the reduction of food waste, preservation, sustainability and provenance.

Consulting with food producers with a view to creating new products and uses for byproducts or lesser-known ingredients is a passion.

A sought-after host, live presenter, educator, cook and passionate fermenter - Mandy has worked with and learnt from some of the biggest names in industry, including undertaking a residency with Sandor Katz at his home in Tennessee.

Most recently Mandy created Aussie Hospo for Ukraine whereby she gathered together the Australian Hospitality network to raise a significant amount of money for charity and was an integral part of the Storytellers Series for Tasting Australia.

Alyx Gormanv

Alyx Gorman is the lifestyle editor of Guardian Australia where she is responsible for local coverage of food, travel, fashion and style. Prior to that, she spent four years working at Time Out, as editorial director of Time Out Australia, and then in New York and London as head of social media for Time Out group globally.


Growing up as part of a prominent Adelaide hills market gardening family, Kane Pollard spent his school holidays with rhubarb-stained hands and an early appreciation for brisk air and sustainability. The other half of his childhood was spent in the small coastal town of Beachport where fishing, crabbing and working in local kitchens helped develop the connection between produce, place and how it can translate once served.

Training began at The Scenic, before some time on pans and plate-up in the open kitchens of Sebel Playford on North Terrace as a second year apprentice. Over the next 10 years Kane would touch base at a newly opened Locavore, where the 100-mile menu was a welcomed challenge, as well as other notable establishments throughout the hills and city including XO Supper Club and Citrus.

The desire to translate his high-end restaurant training, passion for unique produce, traditional methods and sustainability all came to fruition at Topiary. Unusual botanic patterns, edible weeds and the finer details of nature became inspiration for the menu.

Jacqui Lim

Jacqui Lim has earned her stripes by dining at more than 350 ever-changing Top 100 and Top 50 restaurants around the country over the years, plus a number of World’s 50 Best and Michelin Star restaurants – but she’s no food snob. 

Jacqui is a passionate, active advocate of the food and wine industry - chefs, restaurants, producers and suppliers. She sees her role to be connecting people with, and through, good food - whether it be organising food and wine events, sharing her experiences on Instagram @jacquisfoodfetish, writing for her website, or simply bringing friends together to enjoy a meal. 

Jacqui has a Master of Arts in Gastronomy, eats a lot, cooks a lot, drinks a fair bit, and is co-owner of the award-winning restaurant Soi 38 in Adelaide.


From her role as Co-Festival Director Tasting Australia, to Co-owner and Chef of her flagship, The Salopian Inn at McLaren Vale, a jewel in the crown of regional dining in Adelaide’s south - Karena’s work is recognised far and wide. 

Karena has stretched her ideas and enthusiasm to develop a surprising, seasonal and ever-changing menu centered on Asian flavours and timeless techniques.

Karena - a mother of three boys - has worked among some of Australia’s best chefs and kitchens. This includes completing her apprenticeship under Alla Wolf Tasker at Daylesford’s Lake House, teaming up with Karen Martini at The Melbourne Wine Room and later at Icebergs and finally at Kylie Kwong’s restaurant Billy Kwong. It’s fair to say that Karena’s skills are sharp, her creativity unbridled and her love of high quality, local produce is at the heart of every dish.


Based in the Riverland, Ella Winnall is a passionate advocate for all things regional Australia. Her 15 year career in economic development has led to a healthy obsession with the way food and wine can transform regional communities. 

Having grown up on a small soldier settlement block in the Riverland and witnessing first hand the crippling effects of drought on her family and community - she has dedicated her life to supporting sustainable ways for regional industries and communities to adapt.

Ella has pulled together major events like the Feast of The Riverland, River Fringe and the SA Regional Tourism Summit. 

In her spare time, Ella is the Deputy Mayor of the Berri Barmera Council, board member for Country Arts SA and has played a key leadership role in organisations such as the Riverland Wine Show, Food Riverland and the Riverland Farmers Market.

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Submissions close Monday, September 26th