Kay-Lene Tan of Tonka and Coda awarded 2018 Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship

Kay-Lene Tan, Head Pastry Chef at Tonka and Coda restaurants in Melbourne, has been named the winner of the 2018 Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship supported by Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Following a four-month selection process, Kay-Lene was awarded the scholarship on 9 July at Food + Wine Victoria’s annual industry awards night.

Now in its fifth year, the prestigious Scholarship will provide Kay-Lene with a once-in-a-career opportunity to work across three countries in internationally acclaimed hospitality businesses. Upon her return to Australia, Kay-Lene will continue to expand her industry experience over a year-long mentorship with a local industry leader.  

After an earlier career as a documentary filmmaker, Kay-lene followed her dreams and trained to become a chef at the relatively late age of 25. Born in Melbourne and then raised with her Peranakan family in Singapore, her dessert creations are inspired by a diverse range of food cultures. Before returning to Melbourne in 2013, Kay-Lene worked for some of the world’s best chefs including Joël Robuchon and Andres Lara.

“Throughout the judging process, Kay-Lene demonstrated a strong passion to drive and shape the future of the Australian hospitality industry.  Her technical skills as a pastry chef combined with her desire to become one of the industry’s next leaders made her stand out to the panel,” says Umberto Mecchi, Chief Marketing Officer at Hostplus.

Open to employees aged 22 to 35, applications for the 2018 Scholarship represented a diverse and highly skilled cross section of the industry, from sommeliers and coffee professionals, to chefs and food truck vendors.

The 2018 runner-up finalists included Jenni Bryant, General Manager of Market Lane Coffee in Victoria, and Shelly McElroy, Training and Development Advisor at Merivale in New South Wales.

Shelly and Jenni will join Kay-Lene for an exclusive development day with Hostplus ambassador Shane Delia, from Maha and Biggie Smalls in Melbourne.

Previous winners of the Scholarship include Elika Rowell of Square One Roasters in Melbourne, Mark Bashinsky from Aria Brisbane, and Damien Neylon from Brae in Birregurra.

The 2017 winner, Caitlyn Rees from Fred’s in Sydney, is due to start her Scholarship experience joining the teams at Eric Bordelet Ciderie in Normandy, Relae in Copenhagen, and Blue Hill Stone Barns in New York.

Food + Wine Victoria will now work with Kay-Lene to facilitate her global travel and work experience and partner her with a local mentor.

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