The Age Good Food Guide 2017 Young Chef of the Year applications open

George Calombaris, then 24, won the 2004 Young Chef of the Year award.
George Calombaris, then 24, won the 2004 Young Chef of the Year award. Photo: Nicole Emanuel

Perhaps you've heard of The Age Good Food Guide 2004 Young Chef of the Year award winner? A little-known guy named George Calombaris​ caught his big break at 24, when he headed the boundary-pushing but short-lived Reserve in Federation Square.

"It was a turning point in my career," says Calombaris, who now juggles duties as a MasterChef judge with running restaurants such as the Press Club, Hellenic Republic and Jimmy Grants. "Suddenly you're recognised not only by the professions that judge you but obviously by your peers … I say to all young cooks 'Put your hand up, go for it'."

It's time for young chefs with the right stuff to nominate themselves for The Age Good Food Guide 2017 Young Chef of the Year.

The award, judged by Lake House owner-chef Alla Wolf-Tasker and other leading chefs, will be handed out at the launch of this year's Age Good Food Guide on September 12, along with a set of seven hand-crafted Oliva Elité Messermeister knives, in a 12-pocket knife roll, valued at more than $1300.

Applicants must be an Australian permanent resident aged 30 years or under on  August 31 and must send their completed application by May 6.

The most recent winner, George Tomlin, says the award helped land him a job at the Clove Club in London. "Even overseas they see it as a massive achievement."

His advice to this year's applicants? "Think about the bigger picture. Your application has to stand out as the people judging it have read so many of them. They have been where you are in your career and can see when you are just writing what you think they want to hear. It has to be personal and you have to be able to back up what you have said."

For an application form, email goodfoodguide@theage.com.au.