Thi Le

Chef Thi Le is an important voice in shaping Australia’s cultural dining landscape. She's consistently championed the progression of South East Asian cuisine – especially Vietnamese – in our culinary psyche since opening her restaurant, Anchovy, in 2015.

Thi started her cooking career later than most, signing up for an apprenticeship at the age of 24. It was to her benefit, however, as her mature outlook allowed her to take away more lessons from these kitchens. To date, she credits working alongside Christine Manfield (Universal, Sydney) and Andrew McConnell (Cumulus Inc, Melbourne) with instilling in her the importance of palate weights and balance; the value of good produce; and the commitment to staff development within a business. Working with David Verheul (The Town Mouse, Melbourne) also exposed her to the boundless limits of creativity within the confines of a small kitchen.

I said yes to becoming a Scarf Ambassador because it is something I can relate to being from a refugee and migrant family myself. I think it is key to nurture and support talent, and promote why the hospitality industry can be so rewarding. It is as good as any other career or even better.

Since bursting into Melbourne’s restaurant scene with Anchovy, Thi has won several awards for her food (One Hat: Good Food Guide 2017 to 2020; #4 delicious.100, 2019), as a chef (Gourmet Traveller Best New Talent 2016; Time Out Melbourne Chef of the Year 2019; Women in Food Service Chef of the Year 2019), and as a leader in the industry (Appetite for Excellence Young Restauranteur 2017; Best Asian Restaurant delicious.100 2018). Five years on, Thi wants to continue to use her platform in the industry to advance the identity and ethos of Vietnamese cuisine beyond the street food culture it is known for. It is also on this platform that Thi hopes to contribute to Food For Thought events to raise funds and awareness for mental health in the hospitality industry.

Connect with Thi: @thiteatee  /  @anchovy338 
Find out more about Thi in this Q & A with Scarf.


Coskun Uysal

After studying tourism and hotel management in Istanbul, Coskun’s passion for his native cuisine drove him to pursue a career as a chef. He studied in London at Prue Leith’s School of Food and Wine and gained work experience at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and The River Café. Upon his return home to Istanbul, Coskun worked for the House Group and over 13 years rose to become the group's Executive Chef. Following this success, Coskun opened his own modern Turkish restaurant, Moreish, which quickly drew the attention of New York and London critics. After relocating to Melbourne to join his partner, Coskun gained further experience at renowned Melbourne restaurants Attica and Vue De Monde, but it was at Pei Modern, during a stint as Guest Chef, that his flair for fusing classic Anatolian recipes with modern techniques was recognised. It was a turning point. In 2019, Coskun opened his Anatolian restaurant, Tulum, which was recognised as one of The Australian’s Hot 50 Restaurants of 2019. The unranked list recognises exceptional restaurants that tick all the boxes for food, service and ambience. In late 2019, Tulum topped the delicious 100 list, taking out the coveted position of #1 Restaurant in Australia.

As a newly minted “Aussie”, I know what it’s like to start life in a very different culture. If I can offer opportunities to young people from a migrant and refugee background, I can begin to pay back what I owe to this country.

Coskun draws much inspiration from the bold and authentic flavours of his mother’s cooking, and he strives to redefine the standard of modern Turkish dining. He’s appeared in multiple seasons of Australian Masterchef, where he wowed Nigella Lawson. She said: “I just gave way to the magic of dinner and Chef Coskun’s kitchen… he is such a special person too: this is elegant food, to be sure, but with real heart and soul.” Coskun has generously donated prizes to multiple Scarf fundraising events, including an immersive cooking class led by him and signed copies of his popular cook book, Tulum. Coskun is excited to join the team of Scarf Ambassadors in August 2020.

Connect with Coskun: @coskunuysaltulum /  @tulumrestaurant 
Find out more about Coskun in this Q & A with Scarf.


Matt Preston

When Matt Preston came to a Winter Scarf Dinner in 2011, everyone from our diners to our current crop of trainees and mentors were a bit flabbergasted. As it turns out, he loved his Scarf experience and is a big believer in using hospitality to create change in communities. In 2015, we were chuffed for Matt to officially join the fold as a Scarf Ambassador, which sees him hosting our annual Do More Than Dine fundraising dinner and helping spread the word about Scarf far and wide. If Matt looks familiar, that's because he's an award-winning food journalist, best-selling cookbook author and International TV personality. He writes a weekly column for delicious on Sunday read by four million Australians every week. He's also a senior editor for delicious and taste magazines, and contributes to one of Australia’s best read websites,, with a monthly reach of two million food lovers. 

I became a Scarf Ambassador because I love the very direct action; taking people who need skills and giving it to them one-on-one. I love that Scarf doesn’t try and cookie-cutter people, they really celebrate the people as much as the skills.

Best known from his role as a judge and co-host on MasterChef Australia, Preston appeared in eleven series of the ratings juggernaut as well as one series each of Celebrity MasterChef, Junior MasterChef, MasterChef Allstars. Matt has released seven best-selling cook books which have been published in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Portugal. His most recent release is More, with a focus on more veg for more joy!


Jan Owen AM Hon DLitt, DUniv

Jan is a social entrepreneur, innovator, influencer and author. And a keen Scarf diner! She's the Co-Chair and Convenor of Learning Creates Australiaa growing alliance of people and organisations who are committed to lifting Australia through a new era of learning. In 2019 she stepped down as CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians after leading the organisation’s strategic mission for nine years, equipping young people to create, lead and thrive into the future. Jan’s lifelong work and commitment to unleashing the talent of young people, driving social innovation and entrepreneurship, and transforming education has seen her recognised as one of Australia's ‘True Leaders’ in 2018 and the Inaugural Australian Financial Review and 2012 Westpac ‘Woman of Influence’. 

I've spent my entire life working in the not for profit sector. This idea of actually employing people in real work, in a social enterprise... is probably one of the smartest things I've seen anywhere in Australia.

Jan has been awarded honorary Doctorates from the University of Sydney and Murdoch University in Perth and membership to the Order of Australia in 2000 for services to the Australian community. Jan is the author of Every Childhood Lasts a Lifetime (1996) and The Future Chasers (2014).


Leanne Clancey

You might have spotted Leanne at the latest opening of the hottest new restaurant in the coolest new part of town. She was probably looking glamorous, chatting to the barman and eating an hors d’oeuvre whilst simultaneously instagramming the whole experience. An accomplished freelance food and travel writer, editor, restaurant critic and event host based in Melbourne, Leanne has been coming to Scarf Dinners since before they were a thing. A rusted-on foodie, she spent years treading the boards in top restaurants before eventually hanging up her apron in pursuit of a career as a professional food writer.

You can pick up a paper and read about the various complex issues surrounding Australia's refugee situation, but to hear those stories first-hand is something else entirely. I feel a great sense of admiration and pride when I see the confidence, resilience, hope and gratitude that these young people develop at Scarf.

Leanne has written for local and international publications including MonocleNational Geographic Traveller (UK), Here MagazineGood FoodAustralian TravellerSBS Food,  Broadsheet; reviewed restaurants for The Good Food Guide and Gourmet Traveller; and talked food on London's Monocle 24 radio. She was also the food editor for The Monocle Travel Guide – Melbourne and author of Herb Lester Associates' illustrated pocket travel guide An Appetite For Melbourne – both of which can be found in good bookshops all around the world. As well as frequenting Scarf Dinners and tweeting about them, Leanne participates as a volunteer trainer in our practice interview sessions, because she is ace. She's also an ambassador for the Sacred Heart Mission's annual Dine With Heart campaign. 

Connect with Leanne on Instagram: @TourDeClance or via her website.


Nathan Toleman

Nathan is CEO and founder of The Mulberry Group, an innovative hospitality group known for creating some of the most award-winning cafes in the world's most competitive café market, Melbourne. After graduating from High School, Nathan studied Hospitality Management at William Angliss. Before opening his first café in 2003, Nathan had run hotels and managed restaurants where he developed a vast body of knowledge and expertise in all facets of the hospitality industry. He also spent six years teaching English in Japan, as well as working as an architectural design consultant for as shop fitting company. Now his daily professional life sees his love of design and hospitality combined in a hands-on approach to the set-up of his venues.

Many wonderful hospitality businesses have been born/built by refugees. The industry needs committed, hard-working people with a desire to learn. Anyone who shows those characteristics should be given a chance. With a bit of support and nurturing it is incredible how people can grow.

In 2019, Nathan sold his three venues (Top Paddock, Higher Ground and The Kettle Black) to focus on new projects including Liminal (161 Collins St), Hazel and Dessous (164 Flinders Lane) and The Beach House in Geelong. His venues have been at the forefront of sustainable food, recycling and composting practices. He has also recently set up a social enterprise, The Common Ground Project, a co working farm and café that aims to connect chefs with farms, allowing them to be involved in growing their own produce, as well as focussing on mental health and wellness in the hospitality industry. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his wife Sarah and their four children under 10. Having hosted Scarf Dinners at venues he previously owned, including Three Bags Full, Two Birds One Stone, Top Paddock and Higher Ground Melbourne, Nathan has certainly demonstrated he believes in Scarf's mission and we're very grateful for his continued support as an Ambassador.