Queensland apprentices in the running for top title

Two local apprentices are amongst ten commercial cookery apprentices that took part in a Master Chef style competition earlier this week to decide TAFE Queensland’s Apprentice Chef of the Year for 2018.

Sarah Hunt of Albany Creek is currently completing a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at The Treasury Casino and admits the competition has been challenging.

“To know that I am competing against the best-of-the-best in my class has been both exhilarating and nerve-wracking,” Sarah said.

Paul Barrick of Alderley recently completed his Certificate III in Commercial Cookery and now works at Hellenkia and said despite feeling the heat in the kitchen on competition day, he is grateful for the experience.

“This experience has been a great one to have at this early stage of my career and I am really looking forward to the awards night and the competition results”, Paul said.

Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman said the finalists in this year’s cook off should be proud of their achievements and wished them luck in Monday’s awards night.

“Out of more than 280 TAFE Queensland apprentice chefs only 10 were selected to compete for this year’s top title,” Ms Fentiman said.

“TAFE Queensland has shown to be the best when it comes to training our future masterchefs.”

“We know that by 2020 it’s projected that we will need an additional 20,000 skilled workers in the growing tourism and hospitality industry, so continuing this training is vital to growing our economy and filling the jobs of the future.”

“Queensland’s tourism industry is evolving in leaps and bounds, and our highly skilled students will play an important role for many years to come.”

Applicants were required to design a five item canape menu and address several criteria in a written application—the top ten were selected from interviews to take part in the Master Chef style competition that took place on Monday 8 October at TAFE Queensland’s South Bank campus.

On competition day, finalists were required to prepare one of their five menu item canapes as well as an entrée and main meal using a mystery box of ingredients.

TAFE Queensland Brisbane Region’s Director of Faculty of Tourism, Hospitality and Personal Services, Pat Dennis said he continues to be impressed by the quality of the apprentices coming through the faculty.

“Our apprentice chefs are a diverse bunch of people, but the standard and quality of their work is very high right across the board,” Mr Dennis said.

“We are so proud to able to inject such high calibre professionals into the industry each and every year.

“This years finalists for Apprentice Chef of the Year are absolutely exceptional and they are a credit to TAFE Queensland as well as as themselves and they should be very proud of what they have achieved so far.”

The winner of Apprentice Chef of the Year will be announced by the Minster for Training and Skills Development, Shannon Fentiman MP, at a gala dinner on Monday 22 October at 66 on Ernest at TAFE Queensland’s South Bank campus.

The winner will receive a ten-day Culinary Adventure trip to Thailand in January 2019, an Executive German Forged Steel Knife Set and Stico Clogs.

A Certificate III in commercial cookery is one of hundreds of world-class courses offered by TAFE Queensland that provide Queenslanders with the experience and skills they need to get a job and build a career.

Emma Arkinstall (Cert III in Commercial Cookery) – Beaudesert

Current work place – The Star Gold Coast

Emma enjoys cooking with spices and herbs, and anything that enhances the taste of the food and brings it to life. Emma is an avid supporter of the emerging nose-to-tail movement. This trend focuses on sustainable eating and reducing food wastage.

Paul Barrack (Cert III in Commercial Cookery – Completed) – Alderley

Current work place – Hellenika

Paul, our reigning champion, didn’t start his apprenticeship until his late 40s, but he has certainly made up for lost time. Since winning the 2017 Apprentice Chef of the Year he has gone onto winning Treasury Casino’s Apprentice of the Year and placing third at the Star Culinary Institute National Competition. Paul is focused to become a mentor to the next generation of chefs.

Brandon Hardiman (Cert III in Commercial Cookery) – Burleigh Heads

Current work place – Gold Coast The Star Casino

Brandon attended university after high school, but quickly realised that his passion was working in the kitchen. He sought out an apprenticeship and hasn’t looked back since. Brandon looks up to those chefs who are not afraid to push boundaries with food. He believes in using the best local, seasonal quality produce available.

Sarah Hunt (Cert III in Commercial Cookery) – Albany Creek

Current work place – Treasury Casino and Hotel, Brisbane

At a very young age, Sara’s favourite hobby was playing with her plastic kitchen. She has already proven to be a force to be reckoned with, winning a number of industry competitions, including receiving a Bronze medal at the Nestle Golden Chef Competition as well as working at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Gabrielle Inwood (Cert III in Commercial Cookery) – Logan Village

Workplace: The Star Culinary Institute Treasury

Gabby’s favourite ingredient is chocolate due to its versatility and wide appeal; her career goal is to one day become a chocolatier. She aims to one day travel the world and work in top international restaurants so that she can refine her cooking skills and expand her professional network.

Connor Johnson-James (Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery) – Springfield Lakes

Workplace: Bella Cosi Modern Italian Restaurant

Connor was a finalist at the ACOTY 2017, so he is very familiar with the pressure that this competition brings. Although Connor is only a second year apprentice, he has already developed a culinary repertoire and won a number of industry awards, including the 2017 Hospitality and Catering Award – Excellence Apprentice Chef of the Year.

Jesse Jacka (Cert III in Commercial Cookery) – Bardon

Workplace: Kenmore Tavern

Jesse discovered his passion for cooking at a very young age. Jesse’s family, especially his grandmother, played a critical role in his decision to become a chef. It is Jesse’s goal to one day design his own restaurant menu that showcases innovation through the use of fresh, seasonal and local produce.

Alexander Masterton-Dickson (Cert III in Commercial Cookery) – Wishart

Workplace: Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

Alex, a gold medal winner at the 2018 ACF Competition, is ready to take on the next big challenge. Alex enjoys cooking under pressure and the constant motion and never-ending learning environment that occurs in the kitchen. His future goal is to travel around the world and learn the cooking techniques of different cultures.

Jeremy Pike (Cert III in Commercial Cookery) – The Gap

Workplace: Brisbane Riverview Hotel

Jeremy enjoys creating big flavours with exotic spices and ingredients. He has a special appreciation and love for Mediterranean and East-Asian cuisines. Jeremy is currently working at The Smokey BBQ and he hopes to one day travel around the world and work at Michelin Star restaurants.

Ryan Woodward (Cert III in Commercial Cookery – Completed) – Nundah

Workplace: Emporium Hotel

Ryan’s ambition and passion for the culinary industry grew during his time working at the prestigious GOMA restaurant where he saw the possibilities of what great food and fine-dining experiences can be. Ryan is now working at Emporium Hotel.

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