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Chef's Challenge: John Lawson

Melbourne’s cutthroat restaurant game means it takes a lot to stand out. Those who do stand out, of course, are given special hats. The Age Good Food Guide awards recognize those restaurants that are at the top of their game – the “must tries” for the year. Most places can only dream of such an accolade, often spending years chipping away before finally being given a guernsey.

Which is why when chef John Lawson joined me on stage for this month’s Edible Adventures Chef Challenge, still basking in the glow of his Good Food Guide Chef’s Hat award, received within a year of opening his eponymous restaurant No. 8 by John Lawson at Crown, I thought it only natural to award him a chef’s hat of my own… Made of paper, straight from the good folk at Essential Ingredient.

But it takes far more than a paper hat to create a hatted chef. Graduating from the prestigious Westminster College in London, John has served under some of the world’s most well-known chefs, including Raymond Blanc, Daniel Boulud and Gordon Ramsay. Nowadays, John is becoming well-known in his own right, for his produce-focused menu and commitment to regional cuisine.

This makes John Lawson a perfect choice for a stint on our stage, considering many of the ingredients he uses, such as Robbins Island wagyu, Sea Bounty mussels, and Greenvale pork belly, are available within the walls of Prahran Market.

For this passionate young Essex lad, the only way is up; and we’re excited to see what he comes up with next.

Try his award winning Jicama ravioli out for yourselves – it’s easier than you think.

Jicama Ravioli Salad by John Lawson


Jicama (or kohl rabi) thinly sliced
Avocado, mashed
Pistachio nuts, crushed
Lemon zest
Shallots, finely diced
Chilli, finely diced
Snap peas
Combo Sprouts
Coriander seeds
Avocado puree
Yuzu (2 drops)
Pea shoots
Fresh peas


  1. Brush the jicama slices with the chopped combination of yuzu, half the lemon zest and olive oil
  2. Divide the avocado mash on the jicama slices and wrap them, but avoid closing them completely
  3. Mix the pistachio, shallots, chilli, coriander seeds, salt and lemon zest together
  4. Place the “ravioli” on a plate, spoon over the dressing and pipe some dots of avocado puree around the plate
  5. Finish with snap peas and any seasonal green vegetables on top (fresh asparagus would be lovely)


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