Elika Rowell, Head Roaster at Square One Coffee Roasters, has been named the 2016 Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship Winner.
On 6 June more than 100 chefs, producers, culinary educators, wine producers and restaurateurs gathered for the Legends and Rising Stars awards event to recognise the leaders of Australia’s world-class food and wine industry.
Announcements included the winner of the Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship and the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Legends inductees for 2016.
As winner of the scholarship prize, Elika has won a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with three of the world’s top coffee businesses, flights, accommodation, spending money and a year-long mentorship upon her return to Australia.
In 2015, Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship winner Damien Neylon of Brae Restaurant in Victoria was sent to award-winning kitchens across Asia and Europe, including three Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana.
Runners up of this year’s Hospitality Scholarship award included Colin Wood, Development Chef of Andrew McConnell Group, and Cameron Maher, Assistant Restaurant Manager at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.
Of Elika’s 13 years of hospitality experience, nine of those years have been dedicated to the art of roasting and serving speciality coffee.
Her Square One responsibilities include the evaluation of coffee quality, brand identity, packaging, green bean purchasing, forecasting and budget management, as well as the day to day runnings of the roastery.
Elika’s innate passion for specialty coffee was discovered in 2008 when she secured her first role as a barista at Three Bags Full. In this role Elika met her now Square One colleagues Nathan Toleman, Ben Clark, Diamond Rozakeas and Sam Slattery.
In 2010 Elika went on to secure a managerial position at Seven Seed’s Brother Baba Budan cafe in Melbourne’s CBD, which she held for two years and became the spring board for her promotion to Head Barista at Top Paddock in 2012.
In May of this year, Rowell applied for the Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship. Her coffee expertise, sharp leadership skills, coupled with an ambition to lead, saw her win the Scholarship.
“Her unique sensitivity to a customer’s experience and a strive to serve beautiful product from sustainable produce makes Elika Rowell a true rising star of Australia’s hospitality industry,” Melbourne Food and Wine said in a statement.
Elika’s opinions have been published in mainstream media outlets including The Age Good Food, Herald Sun and Broadsheet, and she holds a Q Grader certification from the Coffee Quality Institute.
She is also a certified judge for the Australian Specialty Coffee Association Barista and Brewers Cup Championships.
Photography credit: Nikola Janev