Daniel Hiltbrunner

The Master Chef, Judge, and Culinary Champion...

The Master Chef, Culinary Connoisseur & Judge, and Sustainable Restaurateur...

Daniel Hiltbrunner, has indeed accomplished much as a Career Chef, Certified Master Chef, Certified WorldChefs (WACS) Judge, Hospitality Trainer & Mentor, Restaurateur, and Entrepreneur.

His F&B industry experience spans almost three decades in various capacities including as the Executive Chef of stand-alone fine dining restaurants and reputed properties of international hotel chains such as the Hilton, Parkroyal, Accor, Novotel, Ibis, and Rotana.

The Beginning

As a young lad, he wanted to design jewellery and was largely inclined towards architecture as well. However, his parents couldn’t afford to send him to university, hence he decided to start early in life and got himself a job as a Cook.

His intense love for food as a young Cook in Switzerland started then and there, and with it came his fascination to learn about new ingredients, interest in understanding the techniques, and creating different kinds of culinary fares, all of which were very exciting for him.

As for Hospitality Education, Daniel got his formal Chef Certification in Basel, Switzerland, and later on in Australia, he obtained his City & Guilds Diploma, also an Advanced Diploma in Hospitality Management at the Swinburne University, Melbourne.

He has ever since continued to keep his love for Cooking and has never looked back as a Chef and now also as a successful restaurateur in Canberra, Australia.


As a Career Chef

Daniel has been working in the F&B industry for well over 30 years now. Having begun his professional career in Switzerland, he has also worked in the US, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, and the Middle East.

It was in Australia that he first started Teaching & Training in Culinary Arts at the HTA (Hospitality Training Association), Brisbane, as the Culinary Lecturer and then as an Assessor for the TAFE Colleges.

In 2012, he moved to the Middle East and in the UAE he took up the role of Executive Chef with Novotel & Ibis Gate Hotels in Abu Dhabi and then with Al Ain Rotana.

He once again stepped back into Teaching & Training and went on to join the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA), Dubai, the best Culinary School in the Middle East as the Senior Chef Instructor. Here he helped drive individual student performance through his unique style of hands-on engagement and empowerment with a clear focus on coaching and mentoring the young aspiring talents in the Culinary Arts.

Continued Excellence in Culinary

In the many years of service, Daniel has acquired several Qualifications & Certifications in Culinary Arts, these include Australian Culinary Federation (ACF) MasterChef, ACF Chef de Cuisine, and Swiss Federation Chef Trade.

He is also an honorary member of the Conseiller Culinaire Bailliage National d’ Australie Honoraire, Member of World Association of Master Chefs Asia since 2009, and was also Member Australian Culinary Olympic Team Member in 2008.



In 2011, Daniel was invited to join the much renowned and prestigious Academie Culinaire de France due to his continued commitment to the profession; training and guiding young chefs for the industry and competitions.

Following his arrival in the UAE, he also joined as a member of the Emirates Culinary Guild.

As a Culinary Judge and Ambassador

His role as a Culinary Judge started in 2002 as an International Competition Committee Member & Chief Judge of Les Toques Blanches. 

Since then he has been regularly judging international culinary competitions for Emirates Culinary Guild, WorldChefs (WACS) and La Chaine des Rotisseurs (CDR). He is also a member of the prestigious Academy Culinaire de France and La Chaine des Rotisseurs.



As Conseiller Culinaire, now Honoraire, Daniel organized the regional Chaine des Rotisseurs young chef competitions in Brisbane and Melbourne as well the Australian national competition for several years. Thanks to Chef Daniel, the UAE held its first young Chef competition in 2015 at the ICCA Dubai.

In 2019, Daniel was selected to become the Ambassador of Australia by the President of the Best of Gastronomie, a worldwide brotherhood of professionals in the hospitality industry. Towards the end of the year, he was also involved in re-establishing the prestigious Disciples Escoffier, and was elected as Vice-President for the Australian chapter to continue to promote the professional Culinary Industry & Young Chefs.

The year of 2019 also marked his 13th anniversary in the International Jury Panel and over 15 years organizing & being involved in this prestigious competition for young chefs.

As a Restaurateur & Entrepreneur

After working in the UAE for more than half a decade, Daniel then moved back to Australia and established highly successful businesses of his own. He now operates his own restaurant, the D&K Kitchen, a Vineyard Restaurant at Lark Hill in a biodynamic winery setting close to Canberra.

This biodynamic farming here uses a collection of natural methods to increase crop health by reestablishing and supporting positive microbiology in the soil and in the crop itself. And the same philosophy is being used by Daniel with his food in the restaurant.

The menu changes with the season and the product availability from the local market, farms in the neighbourhood, and Daniel’s own produce. Food scraps go into the compost for the garden and some also go to chickens which in return produce the most wonderful eggs. Such is the sustainable kitchen Daniel is heading now. Apart from hands-on managing the kitchen, he is also the Director of D&K Kitchen Hospitality Consultancy that supports and mentors young Entrepreneurs.

“Ever since I started my career as a Culinary Lecturer in Australia and as a Culinary Judge in various international competitions around the world, the one thing that I often tell the young chefs that I come across is that “You’re not alone and you can achieve much better together” being a good team player can take you to greater heights in your career.

Also, ‘Less is Always More’ has been the golden rule for me not just in the kitchen, but for everything else in my life. No matter how good you can be in what you do, you should always be humble and open enough to learn more”. 



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