Manfred Hennig

Pioneer Year


As a boy I wanted to be an interior designer – not possible then. But I always loved cooking. My Oma was a great cook, and my mother famous for her special regional dishes. Even the North Friesland coat of arms depicts a cook’s cauldron! So maybe I was destined to be a chef. 1961: I started at the brand new Parkhotel Thorsden in Husum (Germany). As the only apprentice amongst 12 cooks life was tough. But after 6 months with the intake of 3 new apprentices the tide turned, and I have never looked back. After doing National Service I left Germany, first working for Hilton Hotels in Canada. Then I worked my way around Australia, later opening my own restaurant, The Stockman’s Tea House. I was a Chef Instructor at William Angliss College Melbourne, and then moved to Chisholm TAFE in Frankston Victoria. Over 25 years I must have taught over 2,500 apprentices; teaching is hard, but a wonderful and rewarding experience. I kept active in the development of food and hospitality in Australia, as a Committee Member AGPC/ACF Victoria for over 17 years, and President of the Australasian Guild of Professional Cooks (1986). I was involved in founding the Australian Culinary Federation, and served on the National Committee of ASCCA and ACF for 7 years. I was elected Honorary and Master Member of the Australian Culinary Federation (Victoria) in 1999. Competitions help you develop and hone your skills. To measure myself against other chefs I represented Australia at 1984 IKA HOGA Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany as a competitor and Team Captain of Victoria, winning Silver medals plus the Silver Grand Prix. I think it is more meaningful to be judged by your peers. Teaching gave me immense satisfaction, and a highlight was managing and training the National Apprentice Team, for the 1988 IKA HOGA Culinary Olympics. We won an outstanding Super Gold medal, the team becoming Junior World Champions. I am now a WACS (World Association of Cooks Societies) accredited international food judge, judging competitions including Culinary Olympics in Germany; Hong Kong Five Star Hotel Competition; South Africa Chef of the Year; Junior World Championships in New Zealand; and Australian Salon Culinaires. I have organized and judged at the Melbourne Culinary Challenge, Daryl Cox Culinary Competition, Les Toques Blanches Culinary Challenge, the Yarra Valley, Dandenongs & the Ranges Salon Culinaire, and was Chairman of Judges at several Foodservice competitions. I was Director of the award winning 28th WACS Congress in Melbourne (1998). We staged a Conference, Trade Fair, Individual World Cooking Competition, and associated social activities, attracting 800+ delegates. Voted ‘best ever’ by the WACS Committee, it is a benchmark for WACS Congress events. I opened Toolangi Park Lodges B&B in 2003 and won Champion Gold Medal “Best Bed & Breakfast with Food” in 2004. Sourcing local Yarra Valley regional ingredients, my menus change seasonally. My food style is Modern Australian, with a classical European base. Over the years, maybe that’s what I have become – a modern Australian, with a classic European base!