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.

 

Apprentice Chef’s Wish List

I’m a newbie apprentice chef. I’ve barely done ten shifts in the kitchen. But I’ve already got a growing wish list of all things in the kitchen that will make my heart happy and my shifts easier.

Note to reader: this article contains Amazon affiliate links. By clicking on these links and shopping in Amazon for any item, you are supporting this blog and my chefs apprenticeship. By clicking on these links, there is no additional cost to you.

Chef Shoes

Any chef will agree your feet are so important in the kitchen! They have to endure 12+ hours of standing, sometimes in one spot for hours. They have to balance through wet, slippery conditions and withstand high temperatures. These Blundstones are my dream chef boots. They are all round safety boots but I love the look and the comfort and safety features they offer.

Chef Knives

This knife set by Wusthof is a bit dreamy. It is worth saving up for your first set of knives. If you invest the right amount of money, and care, your knives will last a long time. The restaurant I work at has been happy to provide me with decent knives while I save up for my own set. In the meantime, a girl can only dream!

Chef’s Books

There are an infinite number of books on cooking and the culinary arts. I wish I could own them all! Here are just a few to get us apprentices started:

Larousse Gastronomique is a classic encyclopaedia of cuisine. Julia Child said it was her most important cooking reference. It contains recipes, histories, guides and how-to’s.

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell gives an honest insight into the oftentimes brutal kitchen. George Orwell works as Plongeur, doing the dirty work (the “Charlie Work”) for the kitchen. He scrubs dishes and mops floors in the hot hell of a traditional 1930(s) French kitchen.

Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential tells a chefs tale of cocaine and cooking. It’s a great read. But remember not to indulge too much in the darker side of the cooking scene lest you burn out before you can shine.

Chef’s Uniform

At Crown we have tailored, dry-cleaned uniforms provided to us for every shift (I’m so excited to start!). But most restaurants will require you to provide your own uniform. If I could get away with it, i’d totally rock these bad boys. They would serve as a reminder to always wear gloves when chopping chillis.

Just for Funsies

This is a wish list after all. I love how this chopping board can be used to get a feel for the size of different chopping methods. I would probably only use it at home, but I know my knife skills would benefit greatly.

What are your most important tools for surviving the kitchen? Leave a comment below.

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.

“In Order to Make Delicious Food You Must Eat Delicious Food” Jiro Ono

In Jiro Dreams of Sushi Jiro Ono, the 85 year-old sushi master, tells us “In order to make delicious food you must eat delicious food”.

What can I say? If Jiro insists, then I must oblige! 

My boyfriend and I recently went to Melbourne’s MoVida Aqui to celebrate his birthday. We had a wonderful night. The restaurant, sister to the original MoVida, offers modern Spanish cuisine and it is to die for. The place buzzes with activity, the open kitchen is packed with chefs and cooks knocking out impeccable tapas without missing a beat. One day I hope to be cooking at this level.

This time round we decide to order every tapa on the menu. My highlight? The Anchoa – an anchovy and smoked tomato sorbet tapa. The mix of salty anchovy and cold smoky tomato ice cream is refreshing and delicious. I also love the Cordoniz, a half quail wrapped in brik pastry, wild mushrooms and morcilla (Spanish blood sausage).

As we munch away I think, this is what Jiro is saying – we need to taste good food in order to know good food in order to cook good food. I need to taste food that I don’t normally taste. Food that is different. That challenges my palate and teaches it new food combinations. I have always shied away from anchovies. I thought they were gross, little, oily fishies murdering my otherwise delicious pizza. How wrong I was. Anchovies, done right, are incredible! 

I’m excited to continue my journey of eating delicious food. Where to next? I can’t wait to find out!

Foodie Goals and Dreams

What is all of this hard work for? In life I’ve always tended to be a big dreamer and a bit of fuck up. Starting awesome things and not finishing them is something I’ve been infamous for. Take, for example, that time I completed three semesters of a bachelor of Biomedical Science degree with high distinction and then dropped out. As a measure to combat this tendency, this blog is a way to keep me on track to completing this apprenticeship, because it is something to which I am truly dedicated.

So what are my goals?

I want to get my Certificate III in Commercial Cookery with at least some of that as an apprentice with Crown. (Update: I have been accepted as a first year apprentice at Crown!). This certificate means so much to me for a few reasons. First, because I haven’t got any formal education past my GED. Second, the formal recognition and training is a great way to get started in the business, and where better to learn in Melbourne than Crown?

I want to work overseas, maybe in Paris and Italy, at top restaurants. Young cooks often get involved in Staging – a French word for heading to a foreign country and finding the best chef you can, begging him to take you on and then working like crazy for free for a given time. I have such a romantic picture of this. I picture myself like Remy from Ratatouille (but less like a rat), making bubbling, herb filled, creamy soups in a French kitchen. More likely it’ll be six months of potato peeling. Most chefs will agree that you have to find the value in the mundane and shitty tasks first, and then you can move on to the fancy and the fun, with a solid understanding and respect for your ingredients.

I want to open my own restaurant in the country side, where sustainable farming meets high end cuisine. Now maybe this one is the most fanciful of all, but hear me out. I have a desperate love for gardening, especially veggie gardening. I hope to one day I combine my love of cooking food with my love of growing food. I have dreams of an old farm-estate in the South-West of Australia amongst the vineyards and close to the beaches. I would love to grow sustainable, organic produce and work with local suppliers to create an incredible food experience for people.

Pretty big goals. But thats the point right? Looking at the bigger picture, what we want in the long run, can help us get there faster in the end.

Wish me luck!