Glenn Kealy, GOTAFE Wangaratta Hospitality Trainer talks about his passion for teaching and his experience in hospitality that spans almost 35 years. “I love mentoring my students, they love the way I teach and in my 14th year of teaching I am still reinventing myself and what I teach, I am constantly adjusting to my customer’s needs, but this time it’s not a menu it’s a style of teaching,” said Glenn.
“The best part of my job is guiding, facilitating and mentoring my students to be the best chefs they can be, if they enjoy class and go on to succeed in the industry then I know I am doing my job.
“I bring passion, a strong work ethic and experience to teaching every day.
“It can be exhausting, most teachers will empathise with me, every time you teach, you are on show, it’s a performance, and you must be engaging, be real and be informative every time you teach.
“I still second guess myself and question whether my skills and experience are enough to teach, but deep down I know they are. And every now and then I get a thank you email or card or just a simple face to face thank you and I realise how much I have to offer and how much I have passed on.
“And sometimes it is my job to keep the passion alive for students, being an apprentice isn’t easy, it is hard work, long and odd hours and you don’t always get to see the joy your creation brings to your customers.
“I started out as a 16 year old trainee chef in my hometown of Harvey in Western Australia, so I know what it is like to start out in the industry.
“The Wagon Wheels Motel and the Harvey Hotel taught me a bit of everything of the industry as a whole.
“After that I worked in a number of big hotels on the Gold Coast including the Ramada Hotel, then back to Western Australia to work at the newly built Cable Beach Club in Broome.
“The Cable Beach Club was my first taste of what good food was all about, it was high quality food and high quality service, and it was a standout in my early career.
“At the Club I worked with international chefs who were handpicked by Lord (Alistair) McAlpine.
“I always felt like a bit of a country kid playing with the big boys but with hard work and passion I felt like I earnt my stripes.
“We had our preparation stations, our specialities if you like and I was amongst chefs from Italy, France, South African and England, we were expected to produce the highest standard for our domestic and international guests.
“After that I travelled overseas working in a variety kitchens for a variety of organisations, including P&O Ridge View Lodge that would cater and board the homeless just outside of London, and The Thistle Hotel chain in Aberdeen Scotland.
“All these experiences and overseas travelling taught me how to meet different customers’ needs which help me now as a teacher.
“Back in Australia at the age of 24 I was setting up a tavern restaurant called Sandy Cove in Mandurah south of Perth, then as a chef at the well-known and award winning Subiaco Hotel, then moving to Melbourne I worked in Melbourne at The Snail and Bottle Restaurant at the Law Institute of Victoria then moving to the North East I worked locally at King River Café, Spotless in Wodonga and now as a trainer at GOTAFE in Wangaratta.
“My students tell me they have to listen to me because I keep them guessing, they never know what is coming next, for me that’s a great compliment.”
“With baking, you have to keep learning, by training or practicing,” said Luke. “It’s important to take pride and have passion in what you do. It’s also important to love what you do.”
His advice is sound advice, as he was awarded GOTAFE’s Baking Apprentice of the Year in his last year of study in 2010 and has international experience at a renown Patisserie School in France. Luke attributes his success to his training and trainers at GOTAFE.
“My GOTAFE Baking Trainers were Kim, Steve and Maria, they were really good to me and also inspired me further to become a baker”.
Initially, Luke started his baking career at High School, working part time at Gaffney’s Bakery in Yea. He enjoyed it so much that he started working full time, beginning his apprenticeship at GOTAFE.
Once finishing his apprenticeship at GOTAFE he travelled overseas to France to train for two months at Ecole Nationale Superieure De Patisserie (ENSP). Luke took the view that France is well known for their pastries so why not learn from the best, so after completing his training he moved to Paris, living and working there for six months.
“I didn’t find it too hard to get a job. I was lucky because my boss spoke a bit of English which made it easier if I had any questions.”
Luke is now back in Australia, working at Le Petit Gateaux, Melbourne a patisserie specialising in creative cakes and tarts.
Luke continues to build his career and said he constantly strives for innovation. “Trying to be a bit different from everybody else is the biggest challenge.
“I am always trying to come up with my own ideas and not copying anybody else’s.”
Chris Buzza was a self-confessed fussy eater until the age of 15, when an experience with his Dad at the MCG changed all that.
“My Dad and I were about to have lunch in a corporate box. Dad said to me, ‘I know you will not like much of the food but at least try it.’ I did and I really enjoyed it,” said Chris. “This experience gave me the inspiration to pay more attention in my food class at school and to start pursuing hospitality as a career.”
Chris started his hospitality training at GOTAFE as a Year 12 student through the VETiS (Vocational Education and Training in Schools) program. Chris also completed a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery and in June this year, he opened his own café in Mooroopna, Bill and Beats.
“Opening my own business is something I have wanted to do since I first started out in hospitality. I like the idea of being my own boss and the challenges that it will bring.”
Chris believes you need to get as much experience as you can if you want to be successful in the hospitality industry.
Chris found it very beneficial and gained a lot of experience working with a variety of chefs with different cooking backgrounds, learning new skills, techniques and flavour combinations. He went on to say there is so much in the world of food you can do.
During his training at GOTAFE, Chris did work experience at Golf Clubs, Restaurants, Hotels and even the Army Barracks at Watsonia.
“I really enjoyed my time at GOTAFE. There was quite a bit of variety and it was good to learn from teachers who had worked in the industry for a long time and were very passionate about food.”
He started his apprenticeship at the Shepparton RSL and finished it at the Aussie Hotel.
“I rang the kitchen at the Telegraph Hotel in Numurkah for five years.
“I moved to London for a year which was great experience and then came back to the Telegraph Hotel for another year before taking on the role as head chef at Sebastians Restaurant in Shepparton.”