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Local student prepares for career-boosting chef program

TAFE NSW Grafton

Local commercial cookery student Jonathon O’Connor from TAFE NSW Grafton will leave on the 23rd February for a career experience of a lifetime, joining 31 other finalists from around Australia for a four-day cooking showcase in the Proud To Be A Chef program.

Each finalist will enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to Melbourne followed by Tasmania to participate in the long-standing annual event, where they will be challenged to create their own special dish in a bid to win a $7,500 scholarship main prize.

Six of the other 31 finalists are TAFE NSW students hailing from Ryde, Campbelltown and Baulkham Hills. The finalists will receive money-can’t-buy tutelage from food industry mentors – renowned pastry chef Lisa Van Zanten, leading vegan chef Shannon Martinez and chef and television presenter Adrian Richardson.

Mr O’Connor, who works at The Yamba Shores Tavern and is studying a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery, said he is “over the moon” about simply being a finalist.

“To be able to learn from these remarkable people is truly exciting. This is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often and I am looking forward to expanding my horizons and bringing the practical skills and techniques I learn, back to the workplace.

“It is going to be a great learning curve and a thrill to have a commonality with all these industry people to discuss and compare our work experiences.”

Teacher Bernadette Ryan said, “TAFE NSW teachers encourage students to enter competitions and programs such as Proud to be a Chef; it’s a key part of the course. Learning to create their own recipes, preparing and photographing the meals and following the vision through right to the end masterpiece.

“We want all TAFE NSW students to have the best shot at success, and I know Jonathan is well on his way to achieving great things in his career.”

TAFE NSW Regional General Manager Susie George congratulated Jonathon on his achievements and said that Australia’s largest training provider organisation has produced thousands of highly skilled chefs and bakers over the years.

“The fact that seven TAFE NSW students have won a finalist position in this reputable national program speaks volumes of the talent of our students and the teaching excellence we provide,” Ms George said.

“Our students gain a diverse range of skills while learning in our hands-on facilities and are consistently successful at industry events and in securing highly sought-after chef positions.

For more detail on TAFE NSW courses, face-to-face or online, visit or call 131 601.

Media contact: Sarah Lievore, A/Media & Communications Business Partner,