Blogs (Media Centre)

TAFE NSW apprentice Chefs take part in once in a lifetime mentor program

TAFE NSW Grafton

TAFE NSW apprentice Chefs take part in once in a lifetime mentor program

Two apprentice chefs from Grafton were among the several TAFE NSW students from across the state to be recognised for their excellence, taking part in one of the country’s most prestigious apprentice chef mentorship programs.

The Fonterra Proud to be a Chef program aims to support the Australian foodservice sector by nurturing talented apprentices. It is led by award winning masterchefs and gives participants the chance to build connections in the industry.

Thirty two young chefs were selected as finalists from across the country, six of which were TAFE NSW students, including two Commercial Cookery students from TAFE NSW Grafton - Rachel Hall, an apprentice at the Australian Hotel, and Scott Wright, an apprentice at the Yamba Bowling Club.

The finalists travelled to Melbourne for a four-day program of masterclasses, skills workshops, and dining. Georgia Manganas from TAFE NSW Wollongong was also recognised as the standout apprentice, being named the winner of the prestigious International Culinary Scholarship.

TAFE NSW Grafton Commercial Cookery student Scott Wright began his career washing dishes in a local restaurant where he lives, near Yamba.  

He says the program has opened doors for him to take the next step of his career.  

“I met some of the most well-respected people in this industry and got to experience what it’s like to work in a world class kitchen, with world class chefs,” he said.

“It’s helped me to realise that as young apprentices, we all have different backgrounds and talents we bring to the table, and there are huge opportunities in the industry, both here in Australia but overseas as well.”  

“This program showed me first-hand how far we can go, and I’m feeling really inspired to get out there and see what this industry has to offer.”

“I’m so grateful for all the support of my teachers, throughout my course and to prepare for this program. I wouldn’t be here without them.”

TAFE NSW Grafton Commercial Cookery Teacher Bernadette Ryan says the program provides a unique opportunity to learn from the best in the business and refine their skills.

“Alongside all the practical skills Cookery students learn through TAFE NSW, we pride ourselves on helping them get a foot in the door with sought after industry relationships,” she said.

“We are always encouraging our students to reach their full potential and chase any opportunity to learn and to fully engage with this industry. The value of this program is incredible, providing so much knowledge alongside unique experiences.”

Fonterra Australia’s Head of Innovation and Brand Marketing, Rachel Irwin, said that Fonterra – and its foodservice brand Anchor Food Professionals – have a proud history of elevating young talent by providing a platform for young chefs to showcase their culinary skills, and learn from the best in the industry.  

“As a business we believe in the power of education and mentorship, and by collaborating with training institutions like TAFE NSW we aim to play a pivotal role in shaping a successful and sustainable future for the food industry,” said Rachel.

“We started Proud to be a Chef almost 25 years ago to give young apprentices exposure to leading professional chefs through a life-changing mentoring program. After an Australia-wide search, we identified a wealth of serious creativity, innovation and passion for the industry and chose 32 apprentice chefs from around the country, including six from TAFE NSW.”  

“Anchor Food Professionals is a brand that goes over and above product by providing new solutions and hands-on kitchen tips and tricks to enable success in the foodservice industry, and it was exciting to see the finalists bring this to life during the 2024 Proud to be a Chef program.”