Interested in commercial cookery? Try an apprenticeship like Austin

16 March 2021

Interested in commercial cookery? Try an apprenticeship like Austin

It’s the perfect time for young people to take on an apprenticeship. The Government has just announced it’s extending funding to help employers hire young apprentices and trainees.

So, what’s an apprenticeship actually like? We asked Austin, one of our Disability Employment Services customers. He’s doing a commercial cookery apprenticeship.

Austin has autism.

Tell us a little about yourself

My name’s Austin, I’m 19 years old. I live in Canberra and my hobbies are video games and travelling (when I can). I like Star Wars and Mario.

Austin doing one of the things he loves, traveling.

Where do you work?

I work at a place called Woodbrook. They do catering for events. I also work in the other part of their business called The Food Dispensary. At the Food Dispensary, we make and sell Italian food.

I’ve just started the second year of my apprenticeship to become a chef.

How did you decide you wanted to do an apprenticeship and become a chef?

My mum and I went and visited the Workways team. We met with Workways Performance and Partnership Leader Timo. We talked about what my passions were and what I liked doing. I told them I loved cooking at home with my mum.

So then Timo suggested the idea of doing an apprenticeship and becoming a chef. Because I love getting in the kitchen and following procedures.

I said, let’s do this.

About six weeks later, Timo organised a job interview for me at Woodbrook. I got the job and I was really happy. So, I just want to thank Timo for supporting me, especially during the job interview. I really appreciate it.

How did you feel when you first got started?

Meeting new people is not easy for me. So, starting at Woodbrook, I was nervous at first. But the more I talked to them, the more I got used to it.

When he started there, he was nervous. He had a new kitchen team, lots of new skills to learn, but he was quick to find his feet there. Within a few weeks, he was doing the coffee run, visiting the ladies next door at the hair salon. Everyone at the Torrens shopping centre pretty much knows him by name now. It didn’t take him long to come out of his shell and to fit in and be part of the team.

– Ros, Austin’s mum

This is a photo of Austin, on his first day of his apprentiship as a chef. He is standing in front of a brick wall, with his arms crossed and smiling. He’s dressed in his chef uniform and has a black apron around his waist. His cat is sitting behind him.

Austin’s first day at work as an apprentice chef

What’s it like being a chef? What does your usual day look like?

It’s not always easy as a first-year apprentice. It can sometimes be hard, working on your feet all day, for 7 to 8 or 9 hours. But I find the more you work, the more energy you have. And the more skills you get.

I normally do the boxes for pre-packaged meals. We make lasagne and cannelloni, tagliatelle and pappardelle pasta, gnocchi and meatballs, focaccia.

I prepare the food, washing and chopping the vegetables – lots of onions!

We also clean at the end of every day. We shut off the machines, mop and sweep the floor and clean the benches.

What do you like the most about your job?

I like preparing all the food. Everything from lining up the pasta, doing the potatoes to make gnocchi, and even plating up food for events. Mum says I smell like a big delicious lasagne when I come home after work!

What’s been the hardest part of the job so far?

Keeping a job in hospitality throughout COVID! Woodbrook has changed their focus. They’re moving away from events and focusing on making more packaged foods.

I’ve been lucky to keep my hours up and being part of the change in the business.

Do you like what you do?

This is my first paid job, so it was hard to know what to expect until I started. I just had to get started and give it a try.

I was surprised that I liked my job. In the beginning, I was a bit unsure how I would go. I liked the idea of working in a kitchen. But apart from helping in the kitchen at home I’d never done anything like that before.

But I really like what I do.

What would you say to someone considering doing an apprenticeship?

It may seem hard at first, but the more you work, the easier it gets!

He’s smashed it out the park and he’s doing third or fourth year tasks as a just a second year now. Which is really good. They’re extremely happy with him.

– Timo Podlesak, Performance and Partnership Leader, Workways Belconnen ACT

Looking for help to find a job that you love? We can help.

Register with CoAct today.

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