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Australian’s obsession and love of all things food does not appear to
be slowing down anytime soon. According to the 2016 Census, the food
service and accommodation sector accounts for 738,231 positions or 6.9
per cent of Australia’s total working population.
Of the 738,231 positions, a staggering 80,723 were for chefs, an
increase of over 20,000 jobs in the 2011 census. However, despite the
increase in job opportunities, TAFE NSW research has found that there
is a national skills shortage for qualified chefs with 65 per cent of
position unfilled, and 70 per cent of job postings in this industry
asked for a certificate level qualification.
For Nina Huynh, the desire to be a chef was one that she has held
onto since she was in high school. Now in her late twenties, Nina has
completed the Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery at TAFE NSW
Wentworth Falls and is now working at Yellow, Sydney's first hatted
“I graduated high school with a UAI in the 90s, I tried to study
medical science at university but something was missing and it just
wasn’t what I was looking for,” says Nina Huynh.
“My life was all about food and the kitchen, the smell, the sounds –
everything, it was where I knew I wanted to be.
“I decided to take the first steps by doing a barista course and find
work as a barista. It was one evening I looked up courses online and I
just went for it by enrolling in the Certificate IV in Commercial
Cookery at TAFE NSW Wentworth Falls. I chose that location as I wanted
to learn about French cookery – the basics, fundamentals plus the
teachers there had so much experience I could learn a lot from them.”
A young single mother with a four year old, Nina also wanted to be a
good role model for her daughter and show her that that it was
possible to be a parent and study full time in order to fulfil your dreams.
Head Chef at Yellow, Chris Benedet, said “TAFE NSW has laid the
foundation for Nina to climb her way to the top. Nina is a very
dedicated and super passionate chef who comes to work every day with
enthusiasm that inspires others. She often finds herself at home
experimenting on her days off, such is her commitment.”
“As a single mother in the highly demanding hospitality industry it’s
not easy on a day to day basis, but she works hard for what she wants
and finds a way to juggle a work life balance with both enthusiasm and
dedication, she’s truly a role model not just for woman in our
industry but single mums alike.”
During her studies, Nina would volunteer at the local farmers’
markets by unloading trucks and learning about seasonal produce. She
now uses her own money to purchase overflow fruit and vegetables and
donates it to the community preschool her daughter attends.
“It’s never too late to do what you really want to do. If you put
your mind to it, you can do it. People think that there are certain
ways that you have to achieve your dreams but you just need to believe
in yourself. TAFE NSW was so flexible and it was an incredible
experience – something I’ll never forget,” Nina said.
Nina’s hard work and dedication to her studies was recognised when
she was awarded the 2018 TAFE NSW Excellence Award for Tourism and
TAFE NSW Blue Mountains Head Teacher Tourism and Hospitality, Wendy
Ashcroft-Ware, said “Nina had to overcome personal adversity, and at
no stage did she let it affect her studies or the raising of her
daughter. She is a positive role model and is an excellent team player.”
Yellow is a vegetarian bistro in Potts Point from the award-winning
team behind Bentley Restaurant + Bar, Monopole and Cirrus. The theme
is inspired by the European dining scene, where contemporary food and
wine are served in an informal setting at affordable prices.
“The thing I love most about working at Yellow is that it’s such an
exciting and new space. We are turning everything on its head,
creating new ways to treat vegetables and playing with seasonality,”
“Being a chef has always been my dream, I have always admired chefs
for all the hard work, when a dish is plated up it’s so beautiful. If
I had not studied at TAFE NSW Blue Mountains, I would never have
learnt the skills that I now have and be working in such an amazing
restaurant. I’m really enjoying honing my chef skills and learning
To learn more about studying cooking at TAFE NSW visit www.tafensw.edu.au or call 131 601.
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