Apprenticeship Countdown – 0 days to go

It’s the night before my new apprenticeship at Crown Melbourne!

On Friday I went to pre-induction, to be fitted for my new uniform and to get my ID photo taken (always an awkward moment for me). I bumped into R, who I’d met during the interview process. R is a girl in her early twenties who has way more experience than I have in the kitchen. When I’d met her we’d had a giggle, and I admired how calm she seemed during the cook (a part of our interview). I was hoping that we’d both make it through the group interviews – and we did!

With pre-induction done, a million forms filled out and a friend made, I’m super excited to get to the actual food part. We will be rotated through various restaurants on a six-monthly basis.  For my first assignment, I will be working at Mesh Seafood Buffet.

I’m stoked. It’s a lovely casual dining outlet that caters to seafood lovers. Now I’ve never been a seafood lover. I find the insect-like features to be creepy. But as I’ve grown up I’ve challenged myself to eat foods that, as a very fussy child, I had refused to try. So I’ve started eating prawns and oysters and, my god, I’ve been missing out. Because of the fussy eating and the insect-phobia, I haven’t really adventured into the world of seafood properly – this is the perfect opportunity for me to learn! I’m thinking that the next six months might have a lot of seafood related posts.

Well, that’s it for this post. I need to get a good night’s sleep before day one of induction. Wish me luck for my first day! 

 

 

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Chefs Apprenticeship: Countdown to Start Date

I’m super excited to be starting my apprenticeship at Crown Melbourne in only three days! 

On Friday I will attend a pre-induction and then from Monday through Wednesday the actual induction will be held. During that time we are measured for our uniforms, given thorough general training and allocated our given ‘outlet’ for the next six months.

I have no idea which outlet I’ll be allocated. If you’ve been here before, you’ll know I’m crazy about all kinds of food. Crown has an insane range of restaurants with premium offerings like Nobu and Rockpool, casual dining like Emporio Pizza and Pasta, as well as two food courts. There is also room service to its three hotels as well as private dining options.

Naturally I’m dying to be placed in Nobu or somewhere else fancy but as a first year apprentice perhaps they’ll ease us in slowly with six months in casual dining first. Who knows what’s to come! I’ll be happy wherever I end up.

I can’t wait to share all the things I learn as an apprentice. Join me on my apprenticeship journey by clicking the follow button below.

 

5 Movies To Watch if You’re Obsessed With Food

Ratatouille

I love this gorgeous Disney tale of a rat who loves to cook. It is a charming movie that features valuable lessons about cooking in a professional restaurant. The art of a French Brigade style kitchen is beautifully illustrated. This stunning movie teaches us that “anyone can cook”. An encouraging message after a set back or loss in the kitchen. And that night-time Paris scene, oh my!

ratatouille

Julie and Julia

A story of two women from different era’s and their shared obsession with cooking. In this movie based on a hit novel, Julie attempts to cook her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The challenge, to cook 524 recipes in 365 days. This movie will inspire you to jump into the kitchen and start cooking the best way – the French way.

bonjourmemejulieandjulia

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

A magical documentary that is full of the wisdom and passion of Japan’s master of sushi Jiro Ono. Jiro teaches us about dedication to an art, dedication to the highest quality ingredients and dedication to a lifelong study of your craft.

Jiro also gives us an excuse to spend our pay checks on fine dining and beautiful food, saying “in order to make delicious food you must eat delicious food”. Jiro shows us what hard work, passion and talent can lead to.

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Haute Cuisine

A very French film, Haute Cuisine gives as a peep into the kitchen of the former President of France, President Francois Mitterand. The value of this film is the food. Watch the cooking scenes and fall in love with French Cuisine.  The film itself is a little odd, like many French films but trust me this film will make you hungry! It will also teach you about the tough world of French brigade-style cooking, this is our heritage as cooks. Appreciating where the modern kitchen has come from can only serve to elevate our own food.

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Food, Inc.

This documentary makes us consider where our food comes from and asks us to question the ethics surrounding food production and consumption. Food Inc. is important because chefs and food lovers need to ponder the ethics of their food practices and, if any practice is found to be questionable, take action to change it. This can be difficult for an apprentice chef as it is unwise and disrespectful to question the way a Head Chef runs their kitchen. But you can start by paying attention – where is waste going? Where is the food coming from? Is it sustainable? What would you do differently? Take note of these things. One day, if you work hard enough, you will have the opportunity to do things a little differently. In the mean time you can make a difference with small steps like saving all your scraps to make stock. Food, Inc. highlights the important responsibility chefs have to serve ethical food to their customers.

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What food movies are you obsessed with?

I Asked Reddit For Advice on Being an Apprentice Chef – Things Got a Bit Silly

I recently shared my blog on Reddit, along with a question to the chef community – “what advice do you have for a newbie apprentice chef?

I got heaps of helpful feedback. A lot of the advice reflected the military background of traditional kitchens – work hard, respect your superiors, never stand around bored, show up early, work clean and communicate well. It is important the kitchen crew abide by these rules. When you don’t have organisation, dedication and discipline across your team, things start to fall apart.

Another comment said, “Focus on work, not blogging”. This comment was followed by a heated discussion about whether I, an apprentice chef, should blog or not. This discussion quickly spiralled into a tired ‘millennials are spoilt and don’t know anything” type tirade. Things did get a bit silly.

To be fair, the rules for this particular Subreddit are as follows: “If you are not a chef, please realize you are amongst a group of highly sarcastic, profane, and vulgar people. This is the nature of the people who work in the business. Downvotes based on this are highly frowned upon.”

I’m cool with all this – it’s the same in the kitchen, don’t expect people to coddle you or censor themselves. Anyways, check out the conversation here and let me know what you think.

Applying for a Chef Apprenticeship

Over the last few months, I have been interviewing for an apprentice chef position with a particularly exciting company in Melbourne, Crown. If you’re from Melbourne you’ll be familiar with Crown. From their website: “Crown Melbourne is a large integrated resort and has Australia’s largest casino, three hotels, function rooms, award winning restaurants and world-class shopping and entertainment facilities.”

The apprenticeship includes six-month rotations at different world-class restaurants. It also includes paid training in a fully equipped apprentice’s kitchen and restaurant. The opportunity to work under world-class chefs is like no other in Melbourne. The apprenticeship is fully recognised in Australia and after three years you receive a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery.

I’ve been lucky enough to get through three rounds of interviews. The first round was a phone interview where I got to chat about my experiences and my motivation. The second round was a group interview at Crown. We were taken on a tour of the impressive staff facilities at Crown, including the free staff restaurant, free uniforms and dry cleaning and a super discounted gym. After our tour, we were taken to the Culinarium. This is Crown Colleges very own training restaurant. Here, we were given a demonstration. Our French, award-winning instructor, cooked a fish dish with a fennel citrus salad, asparagus and potato and dill salad. Yum!

Then we, the aspiring chefs, had to recreate the dish from memory. It was really fun. My dish was decent and the amount I learned in that interview was incredible. It made me want the position more. Also, I got to eat the food!

After this interview, I was instructed to provide references and had to pass police background checks. I expected these to take a while as I needed to pass a United States police check which can take up to six weeks. To my surprise, about two weeks after the round two interview, Crown called to offer me an apprenticeship. 

I’ll be sad to leave my previous apprenticeship, but know I have so much to learn at Crown. I’m excited to dive into this new apprenticeship and know I’ll have a lot to write about.

Please note: This blog does not represent or write on behalf of Crown and all its related brands. This blog speaks only for myself as an apprentice chef and is not affiliated with Crown.

Respecting Your Ingredients

Baby Carrots. In season. Chop tops off. Leave a few centimeters of stalk. Wash carrots in cold water. Gently peel. Place in a bowl of ice water.

Using beautiful ingredients in a respectful manner is the key to creating good food. You need to be thoughtful. Say you find beautiful baby carrots at the markets and you know you have to cook with them. How do you decide on a recipe or method of cooking them? Do you roast them, boil them, steam them? Do you drench them in sauce or do you leave them bare? Do you chop them up and chuck them in a soup? What do you do with the scraps? Save them? Use them for stock? What is the right way to cook these carrots?

Being thoughtful, you might decide to roast them, drizzled in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds and serve them as a side. You might compost the scraps or save the peels for a veggie stock. You might blanch them or steam them. You might serve them on a bed of mashed potato with a side of gravy. With thought and care you can serve incredible, simple ingredients easily. 

The View From the Kitchen

 

I’m on plating and salads tonight. It’s my first time at the pass, it’s Friday night and I’m nervous. Chef is explaining the rules to me. Have all your mise en place ready. Know exactly where everything is. Maintain a clean and organised station. Chef shows me how to do salads. A basic roquette (arugula), walnut and parmesan salad with a creamy but tart vinaigrette – yum! It was my job to make this simple, delightful salad.

It was fun. I love working in the kitchen once I’ve grasped a concept. It is a time of inspiration and I find joy in it. The hours fly by. I watch from the pass of our open kitchen while I make salads. There are customers eating and drinking delicious food in a warm, beautiful old pub. There are candles flickering and the atrium dining area, full of exotic plants, is packed. The music is loud and the people are warm with beer and steak. It’s awesome. A part of me longs to be one of them. The other part of me is enjoying contributing to the warmth and joy in a small, salady kind of way.

I look at the guys – professionals in the kitchen. All sweating, swearing and scrambling to get the food out to the people at lightening speed. It really feels like a pirate ship on a Friday night. These are the nights I love my new job.