Amateur photographer Alison Crea says the city's graffiti-strewn Croft Alley is a favourite place for her hobby photo-shoots because ''it's so interesting, there's always something going on''.
She was setting up to shoot the alley's street art when a chef, neatly uniformed in white, emerged to do one of the restaurant industry's less glamorous jobs - putting out the bins. Crea's shot was one of 23 finalists in this year's Shoot the Chef photography competition, opened to amateur photographers for the first time and attracting more than 500 entries.
Joanna Savill, festival director of Fairfax's Good Food Month, of which the competition is a part, says, ''It was so funny to see the obsession with pigs this year.'' Melbourne photographer and writer Emiko Davies' shot of Merricote restaurant's owner chef, Rob Kabboord, features a piglet borrowed from a petting zoo.
Judge Alexia Sinclair said there was ''complete agreement'' among the five judges. ''A lot of people sent in entries that were just literal or too candid, that had too much thought,'' she said. ''The finalists' photographs shared technical strengths, clarity, creativity and originality.''
The winning portrait, by Sydney photographer John McCrae, features a tattooed chef and a disused power station backdrop.
The critics' choice winner receives $2500, and the photos will be exhibited at the Rialto in November as part of Good Food Month. For a gallery of finalists go to goodfood.com.au.