Australia has over the last twenty years become a nation of sophisticated diners; in the big cities dotted around its coastline anyway. The standards of hospitality in the better restaurants, cafes and bistros have risen exponentially. It was not so long ago that most Aussie customers would not have even known what a croissant was, let alone the vast array of multicultural ingredients gracing their plates today. The ethnic vegetable, so classified by the authorities, has made a big impression on our culinary consciousness. It may be Nori seaweed or Miso, fermented soybean paste, or a kaffir lime leave or some exotic grain like Quinoa or Farro, and these things are dancing with more recognisable ingredients to produce damn fine dishes.

Students Cooking Up Their Future

The hospitality business in Australia is alive with stimulating opportunities for young chefs and their cohorts. Students at secondary schools are being introduced to industry professionals and a taste of their exciting world. Cooking, once seen as a trade where apprentice cooks would end up working in prisons and hospitals churning out slop for their inmates, is now a slightly glamorous field. It is still all about bloody hard work, and I mean that literally, unless you are cooking vegetarian.

Kitchens are being built in high schools that reflect modern design standards. Kitchen cabinet renovations and island benchtops are revitalising kitchens across the land. Cooking teachers are emerging out of the dark ages of home economics and beginning to strut their stuff in the kitchen. Rattle the pans maestro; cooking is a dance between boiling hot surfaces and liquids, razor sharp knives and delicate arrangements of tender ingredients. It is plunging things from hot into icy cold and vice versa. It is kneading dough until tight as a drum. It is deveining king prawns and scrapping out crab guts.

Students are cooking up their futures and getting match ready to join the industry straight out of school. Delusions are being put to bed and realities are dawning on the uninitiated. A life in apron and chef’s hat or cap is a life well lived. It is one very crowded hour under the onslaught of the barking head chef. It is intense and jam packed full of passion. Food is sexy and so are the people who prepare it. Under those starched uniforms beat hearts and appetites unrestrained after work when the lights go out. Bon appetit.