DUBBO resident and budding chef Maddison Gibbs is one of eight NSW apprentice chefs selected for a mentorship program in Melbourne.
The 19-year-old is among 32 finalists from Australia and New Zealand who will take part in the 14th Fonterra Proud to be a Chef program.
The competition will provide the group with the opportunity to attend three days of masterclasses delivered by world-leading chefs including George Calombaris.
Ms Gibbs and her classmates at TAFE Western were encouraged to enter by their teacher, and she was surprised by her good fortune.
"I had no idea, I thought I would give it a go and I'm so excited," she said.
Studying a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery and employed by Two Doors Cafe Restaurant, the program will "open a lot of doors".
"A lot of professional chefs will be there and I'll get an insight into their careers and getting so far," she said.
"I can't wait to meet the mentor chefs and all the other apprentices and just see what I can learn from everybody."
Wining and dining is also part of the three-day program from February 25, an all-expenses paid journey that will pay dividends.
The winner will receive an international culinary sponsorship, in a chosen country tailored to their aspirations.
"I chose the US," Ms Gibbs said.
This year, finalists will have the opportunity to learn from industry greats including Teage Ezard, owner of Ezard, Gingerboy and Black by Ezard, Leigh Power, Mr Ezard's head chef at Gingerboy, and Peter Wright, national president of the Australian Culinary Federation.
Program coordinator Carolyn Plummer said the standard of entrants this year was extremely high and a record number of applications were received.
"This mentorship program provides apprentice chefs with an exciting and unique opportunity outside their regular work environment where they can be taught and inspired by some of Australia's top chefs and experts," she said.
"Fonterra is proud to support the best and brightest Australian and New Zealand apprentice chefs, and through this program we hope to encourage them to stick with their culinary passion."
Sonja Dawson, winner of Fonterra Proud to be a Chef 2012, received placements in New York City at Per Se - the sixth-ranked restaurant in the world, and at the famous Payard Bakery.
She had the opportunity of a lifetime working under world-renowned chefs Thomas Keller and Francois Payard.
Apprentice chef Katherine Offner, based in Orange, will also represent the central west.