Teenagers cooked and served a three-course dinner to a packed dining room at Campbelltown Catholic Club this week. Which was very different to making sandwiches – the job normally given to work experience students in kitchens across the country.
But here at Campbelltown Catholic Club, we wanted to provide a more real pathways for aspiring chefs. So, working closely with John Therry Catholic High School, a team of more than 30 Year 12 Hospitality students created a special dinner night for parents, teachers and club staff. The result was rave reviews from the proud diners.
“Usually our students attend their work placement on their own, which is a daunting prospect for many young people,” said Angela Cascarino, the school’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) Coordinator.
“But this way, hospitality students can work alongside their peers, ask questions of world-class chefs and actually work effectively at their own rate in a realistic setting.”
The dinner, held in the Fitzroy Room on Tuesday night, was the culmination of the hospitality students completing 20 hours placement in the club kitchens, plus the preparation of the event itself.
They worked with masterchef Peter Sheppard, the Clubs Director of Food and Beverage, whose culinary team is overseeing a food revolution at the club – from Kyubi Modern Asian Dining to Foodie School (teaching fun and easy food recipes to local kids).
Peter said the initiative worked so well that he hopes to expand the program and get other Clubs involved, perhaps in a competitive setting.
“Club CEO Michael Lavorato has been leading a push to try to create real work experience in the club, so we decided to get the John Therry students to put on a proper three-course dinner…and take them out of the comfort zone of their own school kitchen.”
“We need to be exposing them to, and educating them about what they’re really looking at getting themselves into so they can make a more informed decision.” Angela Cascarino called it one of the most exciting and supportive programs she has seen, catering to a diverse range of students.
“Peter Sheppard and the Catholic Club team have provided our students with so much more than just a token visit or observation session,” she said.
“Culinary, food service and customer quality are all brought into the program. The change in the confidence of our students has been immediate. They are able to connect their classroom learning to realistic industry knowing that the classroom reflects actual processes.”
“I would challenge all clubs to work alongside the schools in such a manner. The chance to educate an industry is worth the energy, time, staff and resources as the investment into the future generations of Macarthur is a practical, equitable and invaluable way to teach our children, far beyond any financial investment.”
So what did the students prepare and serve? Well, here’s the menu:
Beef and mushroom tortellini, mixed vegetables and tarragon broth; or pumpkin, spinach and fetta quiche with sweet potato and beetroot chips.
Chicken Wellington, celeriac puree and wilted spinach; or slow-cooked lamb shank, crushed peas and potato puree.
Lemon tart, scorched meringue, chocolate sorbet, chocolate tuile and black current coulis; or date cake, candied pistachios, citrus zest and vanilla cream anglaise.