Where are you working now and in what role?
I am currently working as the Head Chef at Cambewarra Estate Winery which featured on the Today Show recently! I also own a small High-Tea business. My journey has involved working in an array of different establishments working my way up from dishhand, to trainee, to Head Chef. I was fortunate enough to open a small café and bakery in Indonesia whilst living abroad, this of all my experiences was my favourite. I’ve also had the opportunity to work in some of Sydney’s more reputable establishments including: Matt Moran’s Aria Catering at the Opera House and Michael Moore’s flag ship restaurant O Bar & Dining – under executive chef Darren Templeman. I studied an Advance Diploma of Hospitality at the college of William Blue in North Sydney, and prior to studying at William Blue I completed a short dietetics assistant course.
What do you love about your job?
I love the creativity that can be put into creating a dish for someone, the whole dining experience, to understand the time it takes to create what is consumed in only moments. I love the story behind the product from where the ingredients were to where they have arrived. I love the whole paddock to plate philosophy. I love getting to know the farmers, I love talking to suppliers about the up and coming, the new to the scene, and I love that no day seems to ever be the same – every day a new challenge can arise.
Did anyone at VHS inspire you to follow your chosen career path?
Honestly no, I didn’t make the decision to peruse a career in hospitality until I was in my early 20's. Whilst at school I was more focused on getting a job and making money than gaining the value of knowledge, which I later realised made life harder.
Did you have many challenges to get to where you are now?
Absolutely! At the start of my career I was paid only $10 per hour, which isn’t nearly enough to cover rent in Sydney. I found the more reputable the restaurant, the less you were paid and the more they would require of you - though the knowledge gained from said places was priceless. Working multiple jobs (at one stage 4) just to get ahead, meant doing up to 100 hour working weeks. Some restaurant service periods would last 6 hours, or more, that’s 6 hours of pure concentration, knowing if you screwed up you may lose your job, or worse be humiliated beyond belief by your superiors. The stress of the industry in the more reputable restaurants is second to none.
Do you have any advice for our current students?
Study, and study hard. The more you study now the easier your life will prove to be. Work smart not hard; gain as much knowledge as possible in as many fields as possible. Always keep an open mind, as what you choose to do initially doesn’t have to be what you will do forever.