We spent a little time with our fantastic Alumni and superstar businessman Tim Darton. He and his “business partner & partner partner”, Alli Peters have built their own little empire called Boardwalk Catering. We were lucky enough to hang out with Tim in their commercial kitchen located in Atarman, and catch up on what he has been up to.
The day that we popped in, we found Tim staring down at a tray of butter-glazed carrots carefully analysing how he might plate them alongside a succulent and plump back-strap. The second we entered the kitchen, our stomachs rumbled and mouths watered…
Trying desperately not to get distracted by the food, we listened as he told us that business is growing quicker than they anticipated and are looking for a bigger space to cater to their growing popularity. He discussed his time at William Blue and what it had meant for him to study with us.
As the conversation flowed, we noticed a bit of a theme emerging as he spoke. For Tim, it seems that his time studying at William Blue allowed him to learn a mix of cooking styles and techniques in the kitchen. He frequently used the word “different” and “variety” and placed a lot of emphasis on the ability to learn about all areas of the industry and the multitude of cuisines. The biggest lessons that he learned were to try everything, take on board everyone’s wisdom and use the environment at William Blue Dining, not only to try different things but to fail in an environment where you can learn from your mistakes without grave repercussions.
His emphasis on diversity in the training William Blue provides seems to have extended one step further with Tim, having created in him a need to avoid being pigeonholed. We asked how and why catering was the area of the industry he felt most comfortable in and his answer affirmed this need; in catering, you are not limited to a style of cooking, nor are limited to the capacity of the restaurant and it’s themes. In catering, you could have a backyard event for a family reunion or you can be catering for a 200 person corporate function both requiring you to foster drastically different approaches culinary techniques and cuisines to create the atmosphere desired by the client.
It is the fluidity of the catering industry and this wonderful subset of culinary careers that seems to have provided Tim with the solution to avoid getting stuck in a style or a place. It is his business and his vision, but he is still at the liberty of the client’s needs. No event is the same, and so the appeal of this area of the industry to Tim is the fact that he will always be pushed to create new and exciting dishes and never rest idle.
Tim explained that students will learn from industry professionals at William Blue, who support you in finding your way. Some people may like a “pigeonhole” and when not being referred to negatively, this is more often than not, referred to as “speciality” or “expertise”. Regardless, Tim emphasised that students should be encouraged to find their own style and shape their own path, just like Tim has done.