Passion discovered by accident
by Emily Dowswell
A PASSIONATE career as a chef first started by chance when Bec House was thrown into the kitchen when the cafe she waitressed at for an after-school job was suddenly short staffed.
“After I experienced work out the back in the kitchen I didn’t want to go out the front again,” Bec said (pictured).
This week, four years of learning and experience in the kitchen has culminated in Bec graduating her apprenticeship, becoming a fully fledged chef. This is quite an accomplishment from someone who didn’t cook at home or ever imagine herself forging a career in the kitchen.
Bec who described herself as an average student felt that school wasn’t for her. But when she started cooking in hospitality classes a passion bloomed and she found herself actually wanting to learn.
Bec decided to begin a work place Vocational Education and training (VET) unit in year 11 at Wingham High School which allowed her to study at school and TAFE while completing practical work at Bent on Food in Wingham.
“When I started my school based apprenticeship, I fell in love with it. I found myself wanting to learn more and more.”
After year 11, Bec left school to take up a full time position as apprentice chef, offered to her at the award-winning cafe. Working under three different chefs in four years, Bec has found new menus and dishes exciting, soaking up all the guidance her mentors have offered her. Bec eventually passed all her TAFE assessments with flying colours.
Bec says that even after the few weeks spent with new Michelin star chef, Michael James, she has learnt a lot marvelling at his ability to whip up amazing dishes from odd ingredients.
“Michael challenges me and makes me use my brain. I was very proud when he said he can see potential in me,” Bec said.
Bec has aspirations to travel the world to learn all she can about cooking and food. Her thirst for knowledge and enthusiasm beams from her when she explains that she doesn’t have a speciality or a favourite food. She loves it all.
Although, being a chef has not always been sweet. As with any high pressure environment, Bec has had and seen meltdowns and conflict in the kitchen but is pleased that these are always resolved shortly after. She also explained that in training it was compulsory to try all dishes cooked including seafood dishes which she likes to create, but despises to eat.
Donna Carrier, supervisor for Bec’s apprenticeship, has been her biggest support through her journey going above and beyond to make sure Bec reached her full potential. A major assessment at TAFE required Bec to design and create a menu for over 60 guests at TAFE. Donna supplied the ingredients and offered Bec the Bent on Food kitchen to run a trial dinner for family and friends to ensure she was prepared for the real thing.
Donna is proud of Bec for finishing her training and for her achievements throughout the apprenticeship. Donna said that Bec has learnt all aspects of operation at the restaurant and has had great opportunities working under three talented chefs as well as learning from visiting chefs at the cooking school.
Bec intends to continue at Bent on Food recognising the opportunity to continue to learn and grow at the restaurant which plans to expand into dinners in the new-year.
“I never thought that I’d become a chef, and now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Bec said.
To see the original article with images, please go to Chance chef at the Wingham Chronicle online.