Indigenous apprentice Laura Kirby – one of six apprentices working across a range of award-winning Melbourne restaurants – has commenced working at The European in Melbourne.
The first group of apprentices graduated from the first stage of their pre-employment training and are working in industry across a number of prestigious Melbourne restaurants.
National Indigenous Culinary Institute (NICI) has partnered with William Angliss Institute to deliver its Indigenous pre-employment program, Skills for Success in Melbourne.
The Skills for Success program included learning fundamental skills required to commence a three year on-the-job apprenticeship. In 2016 the program will recommence with a new group of apprentices.
NICI is an industry inspired initiative, to create highly skilled Indigenous chefs and provide them with a lifelong mentor. The program has been custom designed by industry leaders such as Ian Curley, Neil Perry, Guillaume Brahimi, Michael McMahon, Jill Dupleix, Terry Durack and Barry McDonald featuring the key skill sets which are valued and required by top level restaurants.
“We are proud of these young Indigenous people who have embraced the opportunity to start a new career in Commercial Cookery. They have learned many new skills and have now embarked on the practical part of the apprenticeship- attending classes one day week and working in industry,” William Angliss Institute national training manager Karon Hepner said.
Laura Kirby from the north-western region of Victoria decided to take part in the program for a career change.
“I was excited when I saw the program and it is a great opportunity for me to work in an area I am passionate about. I also want to show other members of my community that there are programs like this that can help us reach our goals,” Laura said.
Laura said she was very interested in learning more about different ways of preparing native Australian food.
“ I have grown up eating a whole range of native Australian animals including kangaroo, emu, goanna and fish and through my training I am learning new ways to cook them. Plus I am inspired by the way chefs like Shannon Bennett cook these dishes too,” Laura said.
The European executive chef Ian Curley believes the program is paving the way for a stronger representation of Indigenous chefs in Australia’s culinary landscape.
“This program is a fantastic initiative to empower Indigenous chefs to begin rewarding careers in the restaurant scene of Melbourne,” Ian said.
After completing the four week program at the Institute’s Melbourne campus, the first intake commenced placements in some of Australia’s top restaurants, being mentored by reputable chefs including from Rockpool Bar & Grill, Rosetta Ristorante and Bistro Guillaume.
The program has been running successfully in Sydney with seven graduates completing their three year apprenticeships in January this year. Two of the leading graduates were awarded an all-expenses paid trip to gain experience at London’s most famous restaurant’s “Dinner with Heston” and Brett Graham’s “The Ledbury.”