Is MasterChef the new TAFE?

If you're after a starring role on MasterChef, your best bet might just be taking on a cooking course at TAFE NSW

Today it seems the way to make it as a celeb chef is to win a reality cooking show like Masterchef. But few would realise that TAFE is the blue ribbon of Australian cuisine, with many of its graduates going on to become household names.

George Calombaris

After his love for cooking was ignited by preparing Greek and Cypriot food with relatives, George received formal instruction in the arts of cooking at TAFE before working under Raymond Capaldi at the Hotel Sofitel in Melbourne.

At 24, he was named one of the world's Top 40 most influential chefs by Global Food and Wine Magazine. In 2006, he opened The Press Club. Since then, he's launched Maha Bar and Grill, Hellenic Republic, The Belvedere Club (on Mykonos), PM24, St Katherine's and Mama Baba as well as finding time to write five cookbooks and help make MasterChef a ratings juggernaut.

Curtis Stone

Stone was studying business at uni when he decided to pursue his real passion by enrolling in culinary arts at his local TAFE. He began his career at the Savoy Hotel Melbourne before travelling through Europe.

In London, he scored a job working for Marco Pierre White. After that, he made numerous TV cooking programs in Australia, the UK and the US, from Surfing the Menu through to Top Chef Masters. He now has his own line of kitchen utensils and has authored three cookbooks, as well as being a favourite of TV mogul Oprah Winfrey.

Guy Grossi

It was no surprise when Guy, son of well-known chef Pietro Grossi, left school at 15 to do a four-year commercial cookery apprenticeship, working under his dad at Tolarno's while studying at TAFE. It wasn't long before he opened his own restaurant, Quadri, which was the first of several critically acclaimed eateries in Melbourne and Bangkok. He's also authored two cookbooks.

Tobie Puttock

This TAFE graduate is best known for his partnership with Jamie Oliver, who he became friends with while working at London's The River Café. In 2001, Oliver asked him to help set up Fifteen, a training restaurant in London for underprivileged young people.

After getting homesick, Puttock returned to Melbourne and created another version of Fifteen there. He's also appeared in Jamie's Kitchen, Jamie's Kitchen Australia and My Kitchen Rules.

If you're after a starring role on MasterChef, your best bet might just be taking on cookery and wine courses at TAFE NSW.

George Colombaris, Curtis Stone, Guy Grossi and Tobie Puttock are graduates of Box Hill Institute of TAFE in Victoria.