More visitors to the Illawarra and South Coast are being lured by good food, wine and produce.
There are many reasons for that including the successful Shoalhaven Coast Wine Festival over the last decade that got so big it needed to be scaled back this year.
But another reason is the training TAFE provides to events and commercial cookery students in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven.
One great example of that was last Tuesday when three experienced Australian chefs joined students throughout the region to plate up more than 1000 dishes in one night at Destiny’s Restaurant at Nowra TAFE in Bomaderry.
My Kitchen Rules’ Colin Fassnidge was in great humour and provided amazing support to the students drawing on his wealth of experience that has included working in one of Britain’s top restaurants as well as some of Sydney’s most acclaimed eateries and two of his own hatted restaurants called 4 In Hand and 4fourteen.
Fasnidge and the students were joined by Justin North who has appearanced on Master Chef, has also worked at one of Britain’s best restaurants and was the executive chef at Hotel Centennial in Woollahara.
The other celebrity chef the Certificate III Commercial Cookery and Diploma of Event Management students got to work with planning and preparing meals for more than 150 people was Warren Turnbull who worked in some of Australia’s finest restaurants before opening Chur Burger five years ago and taking out the SMH Good Food’s Best Burger category.
The 16th annual TAFE NSW Nowra Celebrity Chef Degustation Dinner featured everything from eel mousse, wasabi panna cotta, tempura avocado and purple carrot jus.
The second-year apprentices were exposed to the pace of a high-end kitchen and real practical skills and experience working alongside some of Australia’s finest chefs.
North said it was a great event that he would like to see replicated throughout Australia because every established chef has a responsibility to nurture young chefs.
“These type of events, facilitated by TAFE NSW, have a very positive impact on the students,” he said.
Commercial Cookery teacher Luke De Ville said working with people of such calibre on fine-dining recipes and large scale planning was just one benefit of the night.
“What I really like about this experience is that it reinforces the techniques we have been teaching our students for the past two years,” Mr De Ville said.
Emcee for the night was chef of 25 years and television personality Mark Olive who spoke proudly of the emergence of the food and wine industry on the South Coast and the great eateries and talent in the region.
The number of cafes and restaurants giving apprenticeships and opportunities to events students was also acknowledge by TAFE leaders such as Sarah Phillis and Belinda MacKinnon.