Food and Wine Festival delivers real world experience for aspiring chefs

Published 5:00am 30 August 2022

Food and Wine Festival delivers real world experience for aspiring chefs
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

Hospitality students from Redcliffe State High School were given an exciting opportunity to see how the industry works firsthand by working alongside one of Australia’s most renowned chefs at the Moreton Bay Food and Wine Festival.

The 17 students worked at five events over the course of the weekend, including assisting celebrity chef Alastair McLeod during his Tastes of Moreton Bay three course dining experience, as well as the Feastival’s Business Event Launch, which was attended by the mayor, councillors, producers and industry leaders.

The students assisted with the food service, and some were also given the opportunity to plate up dishes under the supervision of Alastair and his Alfreshco Catering team.

Redcliffe State High School Senior Hospitality Teacher Angela Gilbert said she was proud of the students and their willingness to learn.

“During the course of the weekend we had a total of 17 students from years 9-12 volunteer for the Friday dinner, Saturday lunch, Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch three course meal events. Some students even offered to do two shifts, the majority doing one,” Angela said.

“You’d be hard pressed to find a more authentic hospitality experience for our kids.

“Alistair was free with his praise and the kids really appreciated this.”

The hours the students worked will go towards their 100 hours of required industry placement to get their certificates.

In addition, the students also had the chance to meet and serve this year’s celebrity chefs including Dominique Rizzo, Georgia Barnes and Manu Feildel.

Here is what the kids had to say about their experience working at the Moreton Bay Food and Wine Festival:

Jack Lowis - It was a great experience. I would happily help at another community event. The highlight was using all my learnt hospitality skills (from school) in a real-life event like the Moreton Bay Food and Wine Festival.

Tayah Colson - It was fun seeing everything from behind the scenes and being able to gain experience in such a fun, fast paced environment. My favourite part was meeting heaps of new people that influence our community.

Charlize Campbell - It was great meeting Manu and seeing the community get together. And was a pleasure working beside Alastair McLeod while making memories and gaining great experience.

Mia Dalton - It was an incredible experience volunteering at the Moreton Bay Food and Wine festival. Seeing the real life of the kitchen and how everything works was amazing and the best highlight of the night was meeting my all-time favourite, Manu.

Miah Crameri - I believe volunteering shows participation and helping others even if it's a small thing or a big thing. I really enjoyed helping out at the dinner on Saturday night. I enjoyed talking to others and spending time with the other workers.

View the gallery below to see more photos of the kids hard at work. 

Praise from the head chef

Moreton Bay Food and Wine Ambassador and Samford local, Alastair McLeod, said he was proud to “pass on the baton” to the next generation, and hoped the weekend inspired the kids to pursue a career in hospitality.

“I think in some point of your career you have to prepare to hand the baton over to the next generation of chefs, and I was proud to do that with these kids,” Alastair said.

“To be in the company of these aspiring young people – I personally found it to be very inspiring.

“They were very enthusiastic, interesting, interested in what we were doing, and I saw the joy in their faces.

“They were willing to learn, they worked hard, and were a joy to be around.

“Every chef has that lightbulb moment where they know this is what they want to do, and I hope for them, their lightbulb moment was at the Moreton Bay Food and Wine Festival.

“I don’t think there is any better place to have that moment, right here in their own backyard with their own produce.

“Hospitality can take you anywhere in the world, and I hope that happens for them.”

A head start on their career

Events like the Moreton Bay Food and Wine Festival are a great way to help up-and-coming chefs gain an insight into the industry, according to Restaurant and Catering Industry Association Australia Chief Executive Officer, Belinda Clarke.

“It’s fantastic to see the future master chefs of tomorrow dazzle the Moreton Bay Food and Wine Festival,” Belinda said.

“The skills young Australians learn will take them on an amazing, well-paid career path.

“We know Australia’s hospitality industry is in safe hands with students of this calibre”

Oriana Wyrozebska, Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism General Manager for Tourism and Investment, said the students were a major asset to the event.

“It was fantastic to work in partnership with Redcliffe State High and their students who are working towards their certificate,” Oriana said.

“The students were an incredible asset to all events and finessed their approach in welcoming, serving and managing competing guest needs.

“They helped serve over 400 guests across the weekend including special guests which included our very own Mayor Peter Flannery.

“These partnerships are essential in ensuring the viability and prosperity of our local visitor economy.

“We know that staff shortages across the sector continue to create major challenges for our industry.

“Working with education providers is vital to ensure we are creating professional development opportunities that enables new graduates to have the know how to enter the workforce with confidence.”


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