Guidance from the best for budding chefs

Guidance from the best for budding chefs

By David Schout

The world of high-end cuisine is a sink-or-swim environment.

Once thrown in the deep end, you’re expected to stay afloat and thrive despite testing circumstances.

And as executive chef at Grand Hyatt Melbourne, Jason Camillo knows that the more experience budding chefs can get in tough scenarios, the better.

That’s why as one of the leading mentors in the William Angliss Institute’s Great Chefs program, he likes to get students thinking outside the box.

At the latest Great Chefs lunch – a 25-year-old program where cookery and hospitality students prepare and serve a specialty menu to the public under the tutelage of Melbourne’s best chefs – Camillo wanted to see creativity shine through.

“Normally we do a two or three-course lunch which is great, but I thought ‘why don’t we switch it up and get the students to come up with other ideas?’” Camillo said.

The idea was an open kitchen setting, where members of the public could sample dishes from various students.

“We thought, we’ve got this amazing space, why don’t we do a standing cocktail event where each student can own a canapé each. The idea was to brainstorm, come up with the idea – no matter how crazy it was – and to guide them in the right direction. So it was really an exercise in getting them to understand how the process works in the industry.”

Camillo said the experience was both a culinary and communication exercise.

“In future these guys are going to have to speak to guests and engage with them. We go through with the students: ‘what’s your story behind your idea?’ I love it. I was afforded a similar opportunity when I was a young apprentice and I know how valuable it can be.”

He said through their relationship with William Angliss Institute, several young chefs who had participated in such a placement had become full-time staff.

Eliza van der Drift, 23-year-old commercial cookery student, was one of the students taking part in the Great Chef event on June 21.

Her interest in Japanese fare inspired her to make buri salmon under the guidance of a Grand Hyatt chef.

“I’m very interested in Asian cuisine and am really excited to learn about it,” she said.

“When we came up with the menu this was one of my suggestions and I was pretty excited about today as I could work with some really great chefs.”

Hospitality students were also part of the day, offering front-of-house services.

Hotel management student Daniel McDonald volunteered to take part and spoke highly of his course.

“It’s a great crew of students and I’ve enjoyed it since day one to be honest,” he said.

“I came out of a 20-year retail career to study so I came into hospitality looking for new challenges.”

Jason Schumacher, who helped organise and brief students on the day, paid tribute to students like Daniel.

“Yeah it’s great,” he said. “We’ve got three students here who aren’t even in class, they’ve just come along as volunteers and get the experience of working at the Grand Hyatt. You tell them we have a function on and they’re happy to volunteer for it.”

If you’d like to attend one of the Great Chefs events, visit

%d bloggers like this: