MONDAY night’s degustation menu at The Barracks was a delight for everyone involved.
That’s according to Bega TAFE tourism and hospitality head teacher Deirdre Jory, whose team of students and apprentice chefs worked alongside several of the best in the business to serve a restaurant full of invited guests.
One-hatted chef Huw Jones from Merimbula’s Zanzibar Café and Brett Kyskow from the Waterfront Café were joined by River Cottage Australia’s Paul West in the Bega TAFE commercial cookery kitchen to lead preparations of a delectable seven-course dinner bookended by a round of pre-dinner drinks and tea and coffee.
Each of the courses was matched by samplings from Rocky Hall Winery.
“[It was] fabulous all round – fabulous for the students, the chefs, the local industry and those who were lucky enough to enjoy the menu,” Ms Jory said.
“David Arens [Bega TAFE commercial cookery teacher] and I are exhausted from putting this together, but we’ve already had so much incredibly positive feedback that of course we’d like to make it an annual event.
“The point of this, and the masterclass with Neil Abrahams, is make sure the students build confidence and know that their level of talent is the just as good at those students in city TAFEs.
“All the chefs did a wonderful job and the menu was executed perfectly.
“Bringing chefs together like this with the students and highlighting regional produce is something I’ve always wanted to do and it was great to see it come together.
“I’m hoping we can do more with the Australian Culinary Federation, it’s such a positive for the students.”
Jeordan Bennedict and Jasmine Philistin are both apprentices studying first year commercial cookery at the TAFE Illawarra Bega campus.
Mr Bennedict works at Merimbula/Pambula Golf Club, Ms Philistin at Merimbula RSL.
Although third-year apprentices were guaranteed a spot joining the chefs at the degustation dinner, first and second-year apprentices had to apply for limited places.
“It was a privilege to be able to cook with the chefs on Monday night,” Mr Bennedict said.
“I still can’t believe I got to do it!
“It was really helpful to see their methods and systems, I really enjoyed the experience.”
Ms Philistin also enjoyed learning the methods of different chefs.
“The menu on Monday was very different from what I work with at the RSL, so exposure to something like that is invaluable while you are training.
“It’s great that the TAFE can bring something like that here.”
Both said working with such high-quality local ingredients gave them a new appreciation for learning their skills in the Bega Valley.
Ms Bennedict said he would like to continue to focus on working with local flavours when he finishes his apprenticeship and hopes to open his own catering business.
Ms Philistin said she is working towards being a head chef, but mindful of what she is taking away from Bega TAFE, she said she would also like to teach one day.
Zoe Crosbie, a third-year apprentice at Bega TAFE works at Zanzibar under chef Huw Jones.
Ms Crosbie has had many highlights at Bega TAFE, including competing at the TAFE NSW Culinary Competition in Sydney.
“Monday night was up there, it was an incredible opportunity to put together this dinner and do something different,” she said.