Starting 3 April, a brand-new food series will be shaking up our screens. The Chefs’ Line brings home cooks and seasoned chefs together in our studio kitchen. Working up the chefs’ line, you’ll see apprentice, station, sous and head chefs taking turns to compete with everyday contestants. The challenge? To craft a chosen dish from that week’s featured cuisine. Each night, our team of astute judges – Dan Hong, Melissa Leong and Mark Olive – will take on the difficult, albeit delicious, role of picking a winner. On Friday nights, Maeve O’Meara will take us into the kitchen of that week’s featured restaurant, and uncover the culinary secrets to their chosen cuisine.
But before the show kicks off, here's the lowdown on the team:
Few know chef lines better than Dan Hong. His culinary career started early – like, childhood-early – learning the ropes from his family’s restaurant. Thanks to Mama Hong, Dan snared his first job at Longrain before completing an apprenticeship at Marque. He joined the Tetsuya team as chef de partie, then Bentley Restaurant and Bar as sous chef. A stint at WD~50 in New York came next, before Dan returned to Oz and became head chef of Lotus and, later, Ms. G’s. The kitchen climb never really slowed down because today Dan’s the executive chef of four Merivale restaurants.
Likes: Sneakers – lots of ’em! – and bad reality TV shows.
One of Melissa’s first memories comes from the kitchen: watching her Singaporean mother pound aromatics to make sambal. That spicy sauce must have had some addictive qualities because the Sydneysider has been thinking, talking and writing about food ever since. A multitalented millennial, Melissa’s hosted a food-themed radio show, written for some of the country’s top food mags, consulted for restaurants and food companies, and played an essential role in bringing cookbooks – like this one – to life.
Famous last words: “Singaporeans are food people, period.”
It’s a happy coincidence Mark shares his last name with a tasty ingredient. ‘The Black Olive’ isn’t just the title of his catering company in Melbourne; it’s a moniker he’s taken on, too. A renowned indigenous cook, Mark has more than 30 years’ experience. With his technical background in European cookery and passion for native ingredients, he’s played an huge role in shaping ‘modern Australian’ cuisine. You can catch Mark later in the year on NITV with his series Outback Café.
Roots: Although born in Woollongong, Mark is a Bundjalung man. His family originated from the Northern Rivers region of NSW.
Rounding out the team is Food Safari host Maeve O’Meara who won’t be a judge, but rather a culinary tour guide on the Friday night specials of The Chefs’ Line. An insider to kitchens across the country, Maeve will be hanging with the head chef of each week's featured restaurant. Deep-diving into the chosen cuisine, she’ll discover secret spices, handy kitchen hacks, and tips to upping your culinary prowess. (Read more about Maeve, and her most recent Food Safari series, here.)
Sage advice: “Everything cooked over wood or charcoal fire tastes delicious.”
Take a peek right here.
Have we got your attention and your tastebuds? Cultural exploration and discovery through food reaches a new level with the launch of The Chefs' Line. This brand-new series starts 6pm, Monday April 3 on SBS.