Good for the palate, great for the pocket

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Career -

YOUNG Syd­neysiders Sylvie Mitchell and Tom Har­vey are com­mer­cial cooks in train­ing who have cho­sen dif­fer­ent paths into the in­dus­try. Mitchell, 20, does the ma­jor­ity of her learn­ing on the job as an ap­pren­tice chef at est. restau­rant, at the Es­tab­lish­ment Ho­tel, and at­tends TAFE Syd­ney In­sti­tute one day a week. In ad­di­tion, she works two 15-hour dou­ble shifts and two nine-hour sin­gles a week. On her dou­ble-shift days she is in be­fore the of­fi­cial start­ing time of 9am to pre­pare the kitchen, works through un­til about 4pm, takes an hour’s break, then goes back into the kitchen from 5pm un­til mid­night. Then we clean up, go home and do it all again the next day,’’ she says.

Har­vey, 19, is a fee-pay­ing stu­dent in the twoyear ad­vanced diploma of hos­pi­tal­ity course at the private William Blue hos­pi­tal­ity col­lege in North Syd­ney. He at­tends classes about three days a week and works ca­su­ally in the kitchen at Rozelle’s Three Weeds ho­tel.

In what is an omi­nous sign for an in­dus­try strug­gling to keep good staff, they are not sure if they will keep cook­ing long-term. Mitchell plans to head off to Europe af­ter she gains her qual­i­fi­ca­tions and would even­tu­ally like to study jour­nal­ism and spe­cialise in food writ­ing.

Har­vey wants to teach, but will keep work­ing ca­su­ally in the kitchen be­cause he en­joys it. Har­vey be­lieves he will get a re­turn on his $24,000 in­vest­ment in the course through job op­por­tu­ni­ties, plus his fi­nal term will be a paid work place­ment, which he hopes to take over­seas.

It’s mainly some­thing to have in your pocket,’’ he says. I’myoung, so there’s no guar­an­tee I’ll stay in it, but if you want to go back to it, it’s a skill that’s al­ways in high de­mand.’’

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