TAFE Head teacher, hospitality for this region, Matthew McAlister was in M Block of Armidale TAFE on Monday afternoon when local MP and assistant Minister for Skills Adam Marshall visited the kitchen to officially open Cafe M this year.
Students were hard at work on tonight’s menu on the stainless steel topped benches were Stage 2 Certificate III Commercial Cookery apprentices.
“They’re a good group and they’re supposed to be coming to an end now. So, performing the dinners is the final stage,” Matthew said.
“Fourth term every year, we run every Monday night, and this time they were booked out within two days – so, their reputation precedes them.”
Matthew said the students learnt the whole breadth of cooking.
“From appetisers through to mains, desserts; all your different types of meats, from game to your standard cows in the paddock. They learn the whole lot. They do two years here with us, but their trade is actually three years,” he said.
“When students leave here, they are ready to take on the world.”
However, he said many of the students would stay in the region.
“But some will definitely move into Sydney and into the bigger hotels. The great thing about hospitality is they can go anywhere. You’ve got resorts, you’ve got cruise ships, you’ve got anywhere around the world,” Matthew said.
“Some of our chefs have got international connections which are able to point the guys into directions overseas. So, these guys, really, can do whatever they want which is the plan.
“Regionally, I think we punch well above our weight. The guys get some beautiful product, we’ve got fresh produce everywhere and the guys would be toe-to-toe with the Sydney guys, or any of the metropolitan guys.”
Mr Marshall joked that although he was sure our facilities were better than Tamworth’s simply because they are in Armidale, and for the students to work in facilities, which were the best you would find anywhere was good experience for them.
“You can’t replicate this sort of experience, and to work in facilities like this, which are the best that you’ll find anywhere in commercial kitchens is good,” he said.
“All TAFE facilities have the best in NSW. A commercial kitchen should be pretty standard wherever you go, and we have a standard fit out as TAFE.
“Obviously we build to the best industry standards so that there’s a seamless as possible transition from training to into the workplace.”