On 1 July 2014, Mark Bashinsky from Aria Restaurant in Brisbane was announced as the winner of the inaugural HOSTPLUS Hospitality Scholarship supported by Melbourne Food and Wine.

Stay tuned for more information on how to submit for the 2015 scholarship.

Image: Peter Tarasiuk

After receiving outstanding video entries from a high calibre of applicants right across Australia, the judging panel selected four finalists.

The final phase of the judging process saw representatives from the panel visit each finalist in their own work environment. The panel met with Mark in the Aria kitchens last month to learn more about his day-to-day work and tour the kitchens. Mark also presented a special lunch for the judges which featured macadamia, pineapple and prawn crackers, pork belly with chow chow relish, followed by smoked Wagyu brisket with carrots and coffee.

About Mark

Mark started an apprenticeship in 2004 at Aria Restaurant in Sydney learning basic food preparation and cooking techniques. He studied commercial cookery at TAFE while continuing to work at Aria until 2009 when he was asked to help set up Aria Restaurant in Brisbane where he has worked for the past five years. Now in the position of sous chef at the age of 28, Mark manages a staff of 24 and was recently named Employee of the Year across all Aria staff in 2013. Throughout the judging process Mark demonstrated all the qualities of a future leader in the hospitality industry: he has passion, drive and dedication to build on his culinary skills and broaden his experience.

Hospitality is far more than a job for him. The judging panel learned of many examples when Mark goes that extra mile to give back to team, even taking colleagues out on fishing trips after finishing a shift together at 1:00am!

On receiving the award at Stokehouse City in Melbourne, Mark said:

“I’m very honoured to receive the scholarship award. I’m looking forward the next 12 months and the learnings and experiences I can bring back to share with the Aria team".

Mark will embark on his international work experience in the second half of 2014 and will work closely with Melbourne Food and Wine and HOSTPLUS to tailor his once-in-a-lifetime trip to three renowned restaurants overseas.

With the help of a GoPro camera, Mark will be documenting his experience in a series of video blogs later in the year, so stay tuned!

What's on offer

The scholarship offers work experience in three renowned restaurants or wineries across the world and the exclusive opportunity to learn from international leaders and visionaries, and includes return international flights, $2,000 spending money, a year-long mentorship with a Melbourne Food and Wine Legend, and the opportunity to share their experience with a video blog.

The judging panel includes Natalie O’Brien, CEO, Melbourne Food and Wine; Umberto Mecchi, executive manager, strategy and marketing at HOSTPLUS; Matteo Pignatelli from Restaurant Catering Australia; current Melbourne Food and Wine Legend Gail Donovan; and 2014 HOSTPLUS Trailblazer Rafael Rashid.

This once-in-a-lifetime experience includes:

  • International economy return airfares to the maximum value of $4,000.00
  • A money can’t buy experience of three four-day stages at internationally acclaimed food and wine businesses outside of Australia
  • Accommodation during the overseas stay (up to 15 nights) to the maximum value of $4,000.00
  • $2,000.00 AUD spending money
  • Go Pro Camera –  to capture the experience
  • A money can’t buy mentorship experience with a Melbourne Food and Wine Legend
  • A Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 foodie experience with exclusive tickets to selected events to the maximum value of $500.00
  • Exclusive invite to the 2015 Legends Announcement and Chef Jam, with a speaking opportunity at both events