“Youth is the most precious thing in life,” wrote Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. “It is too bad it has to be wasted on young folks.”

The young chefs of Perth, it must be said, seem to have zero intention of squandering their youth. Which helps explain why – despite the pandemic-related challenges of the last two years – WA’s dining landscape remains a proverbial hotbed of activity, from the constant movement of cooking talent between kitchens (and countries) to new businesses opening their doors.

Although we rounded up the latter in Broadsheet’s annual mid-year report card, this wrap aims to focus on the former and celebrate the newly minted head chefs diners should be tracking.

Although this line-up covers venues ranging from casual to fancy, the names here have a few things in common. They’re bringing something cool to their respective parties. They’re first-time head chefs or chefs de cuisine or running a venue for the first time (at least in WA), and they got their call-up in 2022, meaning talents such as Blaze Young (Nieuw Ruin), Denver Stevens (Bungalow Social) and Wines of While’s dynamic co-head chef duo Jack Botha and Branden Scott – among other cooking talents that have been running kitchens prior to the start of the year – weren’t available for selection.

Without further ado, here are eight chefs in their twenties and thirties – in alphabetical order – who I’m expecting to hear lots more from in future.

Albee Lee, Wills Domain
In a short space of time, this modern, ambitious cellar door-restaurant (and chef Seth James’s wild imagination) put itself firmly on the national food map. Following the promotion of long-time brigade member Albee Lee to chef de cuisine, Wills is getting ready for the next chapter of its story. Drawing on both the experience of Wills’ culinary director Jed Gerrard (Wildflower, Hearth) and her own Taiwanese heritage, Lee is ensuring Wills remains an essential Margaret River destination. A case in point: creations such as the very Australian combination of quandong, youlk (a native tuber) and desert lime with estate honey.

Art Bunraksa, Rym Tarng
If only every suburb had a smart-casual Thai diner and takeaway like Rym Tarng. A product of high-powered kitchens including Long Chim and Post, as well as the Ritz-Carlton opening team, Bangkok-born chef and Rym Tarng partner Art Bunraksa makes a compelling argument that delicious and neighbourhood-friendly can (and should) mix.

Brian Cole, Hearth
There’s cooking (read: burning) things on the barbie, and then there’s the thoughtful open-fire cooking at the Ritz-Carlton Perth’s ground-floor restaurant. Recently promoted sous chef Brian Cole – ably assisted by the hotel’s executive chef Alberto Cuzzit – is picking up where his predecessors left off and turning out detailed flame-kissed dishes a la dry-aged Wagin duck with rosella jam, roasted cauliflower with a miso and orange sabayon, and wattleseed and pistachio ice-cream sandwiches.

Moar Mentin, Falafel Omisi
A former businessman that went the long way to get to cooking, Moar Mentin is making up for lost time by cooking some of the most compelling Middle Eastern food in Perth. (That he goes about his business from a kiosk next to a soccer pitch only adds to Falafel Omisi’s appeal.) From glorious fried-to-order falafels to a filling sabich (a Jewish-Iraqi sandwich) crammed with eggplant, egg and the bold fermented mango sauce known as amba, Omisi is a pointed reminder that vegetarian eating can be crazy delicious.

Oscar Holgado, Madalena’s
A survivor of Michelin-starred London kitchens such as Murano by Angela Hartnett and Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, Oscar Holgado brings plenty of experience to his role as head chef at Freo’s favourite seafood wine bar. But for those looking for more empirical evidence of our man’s ability than a stacked CV, look no further than his genius raw spot prawn, avocado and longan ceviche. We’re expecting Holgado’s time at as head chef at Coombeshead Farm – a guesthouse, bakery, restaurant and farm owned by English nose-to-tail advocate Tom Adams – will prove very useful once the charcuterie program at Madalena’s upstairs bar gets underway.

Rohan Park, Old Young’s
While the offer of raw kangaroo, native lemongrass oil and bush tomato aioli speak to Rohan Park’s tenure with native food pop-up Fervor, our man’s first head chef gig also speaks to his own story and interests. Case in point: his wonderful udon, kimchi and cream cheese: an addictive Japanese-ish, Korean-ish jumble of noodles, sauce and savour, and one of many high points from this promising debutant.

Rose Bass, Corvo Bar and Kitchen
Rose Bass has come a long way since her first restaurant gig at Pancho’s. After working her way through local kitchens, she set course for Europe where she spent six years working with gun chefs including Marco Pierre White protégé Phil Howard, both in London and in Howard’s resort in the French Alps. Back on home soil, Bass puts this know-how to good use in her brilliant menus at Corvo where grilled Wagin quail, rabbit and pancetta pie and parmesan gnocchi effortlessly come together.

Sofika Boulton, Bar Rogue
A duck scotch egg caked with Merguez sausage meat. Crunchy cigar-shaped lobster meat “tacos”. Cold fried chicken perfumed with yuzu. The drinks-friendly food at the Le Rebelle crew’s wine bar spin-off is all about fun, not just for diners, but for emerging homegrown cooking talent Sofika Boulton who’s clearly enjoying being given the keys to the Bar Rogue kitchen.