Cameron Jones 2018 Winner
It’s important that we acknowledge the restaurant stars of tomorrow. They are the industry’s future. In acknowledging them in such a public manner, we are sending an emphatic message to all aspiring young chefs that they are valued and supported and, of course, recognised.
It is our collective responsibility to nurture and develop the talent of the future and this award along with the Breakthrough Talent Award plays a significant role in doing so.
Our Young Chef of the Year for 2018 has packed a lot into his few short years. He has made a name for himself in his kitchen, where he has progressed up the ranks from commis to sous chef and then to head chef in 2016.
He has been a State finalist in the national Appetite For Excellence awards, cooking against young chefs from such celebrated restaurants as Quay and Bentley in Sydney. This year, he was one of the stars of the Starlight Foundation’s Five Chefs Dinner, cooking alongside Good Food Guide award winners Guy Jeffreys, Amy Hamilton and Herb Faust.
Our Young Chef of the Year has a particular interest in garden-to-plate cuisine and is a forager with a special interest in river plants.
The West Australian Good Food Guide Young Chef of the Year 2018 is Cameron Jones from Red Cabbage.
Q: What was the first thing you cooked and how old were you?
A: The first thing I remember cooking was chocolate cake with Mum around the age of seven. There was always a battle between my brothers and I on who would get to lick the spoon.
Q: What do you fear most?
A: Disappointment. We place so much pressure on ourselves to please everyone, but the reality is you can’t. Just do the best you can and be your own harshest critic. If you can please yourself, you’re probably pleasing others.
Q: If you could be better at something what would it be?
A: Public speaking. Whether it’s face to face with someone I haven’t spoken to before or speaking to a large group. I can get socially anxious.
Q: What is your most treasured possession?
A: It’s a motivational note I was given from my nan before I left for Sydney to cook in the Appetite for Excellence competition. I finished as a State finalist. Since then she has passed so this note means a lot to me.
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your life?
A: On a personal level, my nan would be one of the more prominent influences in my life. Growing up in a large family it was sometimes hard to find your feet. She taught me that it’s fine if you feel like you don’t fit in and there is nothing stronger than being yourself and accepting who you are. She always pressed the point to think about others and not to let yourself become self-absorbed. There is more in this world than just us.
Q: What is your most marked characteristic?
A: I would say that I’m very level headed, and I don’t let emotion get the best of me in stressful situations.
Q: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement in life so far?
A: Gaining the position of head chef in the Red Cabbage kitchen. Also making it out relatively unscathed in the Starlight Five Chef Charity Dinner this year where we cooked a course each for more than 400 people and raised more than $500,000 for the foundation.
Q: Which living person do most admire?
A: Peter Gilmore. He is a well-renowned Australian chef who describes his food as inspired by nature. He is a passionate gardener who really embraces the use of vegetables in his unique \ style of cooking.
Q: Favourite kitchen gadget?
A: Our coal barbecue is hands down the MVP (most valued possession) of the kitchen. It has allowed us to do so much more with our food. Even something as simple as cooking vegetables over coal makes a huge difference to the overall flavour.
Q: What are three things that are always in your pantry at home?
A: Dark chocolate, coffee, and barbecue sauce. Every chef has a guilty pleasure, unfortunately mine is barbecue sauce.
Q: If you were cooking a romantic dinner for you and your partner, what would it be?
A: Probably just homemade pizza. When I’m at home I normally cook fresh and simple food. I spend enough time in the kitchen at work, and my partner understands, although she still eats pretty well.
Q: If you had a personal motto, what would it be?
A: Help yourself. This is something that I tell my chefs on a weekly basis. If there is something you can do to improve your life or job, help yourself. A proactive outlook can make life a lot easier instead of leaving things to the last minute and letting it all pile up.
Our coal barbecue is hands down the MVP (most valued possession) of the kitchen. It has allowed us to do so much more with our food. Even something as simple as cooking vegetables over coal makes a huge difference to the overall flavour."