June 6, 2023



I think you can take a step in any direction and if you are open enough to see them, opportunities will present themselves in the strangest of places. I don’t ignore them, I embrace them.

Tell us how you spend your days. What do you do?

Being hosted (doing an apprentice) at a hotel like the Esplanade allows me to work in a variety of kitchen roles. I move between à la carte style cooking that services the hotel restaurant and bars, to preparing working lunches for daytime functions throughout the conference and function rooms, through to working in banquets, which sees us preparing plated set menu dinners for evening functions and also buffet style menus for evening and daytime functions. Sometimes I can also find myself producing High Tea on the weekends. No day is quite the same so there is a lot of variety.

Did you always plan to work in the hospitality industry?

Not at all! I did my first apprenticeship as a light duty motor mechanic when I was 15 years old. After trying a number of things, I worked in Information Technology for 28 years. Cooking was a hobby of mine which quickly became a passion.

So, how did you get into tourism and hospitality?

My first step in to the industry was actually an all-in approach. I took a redundancy and bought a cafe/lunch bar, which I ran for a few years. My wife sustained an injury which prevented her from working so we needed to sell the business and I returned to working in IT, trying to chase the money. I was never satisfied after that and the desire to cook became even greater. As COVID hit and many of us were out of work, I’d had enough of the corporate sector and wanted to finish my working years doing something that truly made me happy, so I decided to make the move and study my Cert III in Commercial Cooking. Halfway through I realised just doing the certification wasn’t going to be enough for me and decided I wanted to be trained formally and get a trade qualification.

How would you describe yourself?

I’m 50 years old, married with two daughters and a grandson. I’ve always been adventurous and don’t believe in just accepting what is handed out. I believe there is nothing you can’t achieve, regardless of what your situation is. I think you can take a step in any direction and if you are open enough to see them, opportunities will present themselves in the strangest of places. I don’t ignore them, I embrace them.

What do you love most about the industry?

It’s the inclusivity for me. I work with older and younger chefs, male and female, from all different countries, backgrounds, educational levels. The only thing that matters in the kitchen is your work ethic, willingness to keep learning and the ability to say “YES CHEF!” We are all joined by the commonality of the passion for food and continuous improvement.

What’s the best part of your job?

There are three things. I learn new things every single day about so many aspects of food and that never gets old. Then there’s the people, you spend many hours with the hospo crew, from back of house to front of house. You get to know all about each other, you see each other in times of high stress through to times of happiness and that sort of exposure can leave people vulnerable, you band together as a family and keep each other going.

And finally, that feeling you get when you watch people sit back after their meal and say “Damn that was good”.

What’s your best advice for anyone starting out?

Be open to everything, the greatest lessons come from some unlikely places. Try everything, from tastes to techniques. Accept your never ever going to be finished training and spend some money on good shoes!

And what’s next for you?

I hope to qualify this year and remain working in banquets and functions side of the industry, I like cooking for lots of people.

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