Respected regional chefs are uniting to help address a skills shortage, by sharing their stories at the region’s first Cheftalk.
The forum has been organised by TAFE NSW and Wodonga TAFE and is designed inspire, not only school leavers, but those considering a career change.
“We really wanted to do something for our industry as a whole,” TAFE NSW Facilitator Tracey Holley said.
“We saw that there was a downturn in kids wanting to be a chef, so this is about getting them in front of some of our local heroes to really understand what the job is and how great it can be.”
For Miss Amelie Executive Chef and owner David Kapay, Cheftalk is a way to give back to the industry that has seen him work at some of Europe’s most exclusive restaurants before returning to establish his own fine dining restaurant in Wodonga.
“I guess it’s about getting young kids excited about the career and possibilities,” David said.
“If you dream big and work hard, anything is possible. I’ve lived those possibilities and lived the dream – and am still living the dream.”
Justin Hope is Executive Chef at the SS&A Club and is determined to help address a skills shortage.
“One of the difficulties I have is finding good local chefs,” Justin said.
“I don’t want to have to rely on going to Melbourne or Sydney, or getting in Visa chefs to fill out our team.
“I also want to get out to the kids that there are different pathways and so many things you can get out of being a chef, like food science. I started out as a pastry chef.”
Anna-mei Telmo is Sous Chef at Atura, and wants to inspire those considering a career change.
“I did my chefing when I was 28,” Anna said.
“I was in IT before that, so I want to encourage people to stay with your passion. I always wanted to be a chef, but had parents who told me to go another way, so follow your dreams.”
Head Chef at Settlers Tavern in Mount Beauty, Nick Gosnick will also share his journey, after coming through the TAFE system.
“I come from the area and was taught at Wodonga TAFE, so I think I’m quite relatable to the kids we’re going to speak to,” Justin said.
“I also want to highlight how versatile it can be in a rural area. My dad is a chef and told me not to be a chef because I won’t see my family and I’ll be working long hours, but I don’t believe that’s the case.
“Where I work – like today, I’ve got a Thursday off, I don’t work as late as those in the city, and there are quite a few advantages that are not really spoken about.”
Also joining the team on the panel for Cheftalk is Head chef at Star Hotel Yackandandah, Jamie Cox.
Organisers hope the forum will be one of many events to help strengthen the hospitality industry.
“Out of this we’re hoping to put together some dedicated work placements and training, not just for school leavers, but anyone thinking of a career change,” Tracey said.
“We also encourage parents to come along with their kids and listen to real life stories and how great an industry this can be.
Any questions they might have around what goes on, including training and support, we can answer it for them on that day as well.”
Cheftalk is on Monday 16 October from 5:00pm – 6:30pm at Atura, Dean Street Albury.