Good for the palate, great for the pocket
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.’’