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Local commercial cookery student Irene San Andres from TAFE NSW Grafton has just returned from 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 enjoyed an all-expenses-paid trip to Melbourne to participate in the long-standing annual event, where three industry mentors guided them through a culinary showcase and challenged them to create their own special dish in a bid to win a $7,500 scholarship as main prize.
One other finalist was a fellow TAFE NSW student, Jordan Frost from TAFE NSW Bega.
Although neither won, as finalists they received money-can’t-buy tutlege over the four day program from food industry mentors – renowned pasty chef Christy Tania, leading food service and global events expert Peter Wright and multiple restaurant owner and celebrated chef Scott Pickett.
Ms San Andres, who works at Angourie Rainforest Resort near Yamba and is studying a Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery, said simply being a finalist thrilled her.
“My time in Melbourne was overwhelming and inspiring, and it’s definitely motivated me to do more. It’s been a real eye opener of an opportunity. There were so many passionate people I met through the program and the way they talk about food makes you fall further in love with it and the industry,” she said.
“Every finalist is a winner really, because having the opportunity to be involved in Proud to be a Chef is the true prize. You get to meet really talented participants working in extraordinary places and the mentors are fascinating; the amount of knowledge they fed us is amazing. It’s been such a learning curve. It’s also been great to find a commonality with all these industry people and discuss and compare our work experiences.”
Teacher Bernadette Ryan said, “Irene is a motivated and enthusiastic student. She is always happy, professional and determined - all excellent qualities in a chef.”
“We highly encourage our 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… following the vision through right to the end masterpiece. We want all our students to have the best shot at success, and I know Irene is well on her way to achieving great things in her career.”
TAFE NSW Regional General Manager Susie George said the organisation has produced thousands of highly skilled chefs and bakers over the years.
“That two TAFE NSW students 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 commercial cookery courses provide a comprehensive learning experience - from twisting pasta to patisserie techniques to mastering hospitality operations. Students gain a huge range of skills and are consistently successful in big events like this one and in securing highly sought-after chef positions.
“As Australia’s largest education provider, TAFE NSW has an excellent reputation across the state for turning out well-qualified, passionate industry professionals. I congratulate Irene on her recognition as such.”
For more detail on TAFE NSW courses, face-to-face or online, visit www.tafensw.com.au or call 131 601.
Media contact: Kristy Sheppard, TAFE NSW Media & Communications Business Partner, 4923 7784 or 0407 450 860.