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TAFE NSW a key ingredient in tackling hospitality skills shortage: Sir George head chef

TAFE NSW Cootamundra

TAFE NSW a key ingredient in tackling hospitality skills shortage: Sir George head chef

LOCAL FLAVOUR: Sir George Jugiong head chef Nick Williams says TAFE NSW armed him with the skills needed to make his mark in the industry.

9 July, 2020

A Riverina chef whose training has taken him to the kitchens of some of Australia’s most celebrated eateries has urged locals to consider a career in cookery to address the skills shortage afflicting the sector.

Nick Williams, who returned to the Riverina in late-2016 to take up a role as head chef of Jugiong’s Sir George Hotel, credits his formative training at TAFE NSW for arming him with the skills – and confidence - for a diverse cookery career.

According to Restaurant and Catering Australia, the nation’s hospitality industry is facing a staggering 123,000 worker shortage in the industry by 2023.

Mr Williams said the shortage was being felt even more acutely in regional areas and encouraged locals considering a career in the kitchen to take advantage of the “phenomenal facilities and training” at TAFE NSW.

“I can’t speak highly enough of my time at TAFE NSW Wagga Wagga: the teachers were so inspiring, passionate and professional, and the kitchen facilities were incredible,” Mr Williams said. “It really was the best teaching I’ve ever come across and I just hope more people consider the foundation it can provide for a rewarding career.”

Mr Williams, 41, undertook his apprenticeship at Wagga Commercial Club in 1998, and went on to work at a string of popular Melbourne nosheries, including the iconic Bluetrain Café.

In November 2016, he returned to the Riverina as inaugural head chef of the Sir George at Jugiong, helping the hotel forge a formidable reputation as a destination, despite being in a town of just 220 people.

“I was done with the city and I find regional cooking far more exciting,” Mr Williams said. “I know all my suppliers on a first-name basis and I know where all my food comes from.”

TAFE NSW Commercial Cookery teacher Fiona Bance, who taught Mr Williams as an apprentice, said despite a COVID-induced downturn, demand for chefs would soon be surging once again.

“There’s no doubt a career as a chef can be hard work but it’s such a richly rewarding job and the industry has been crying out for qualified people in recent years,” Ms Bance said.

“If you want to get the practical skills and experience for a diverse and interesting career in a growth industry that could take you anywhere, then TAFE NSW is the best place to learn the craft.”

To find out more about studying hospitality at TAFE NSW, phone 13 16 01 or visit

Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Media and Communications – Business Partner, 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428.