“What do I love most about my job? I’ve turned my hobby of eating into a career I’ve fallen in love with.” – Adelene
It’s not every day that you meet people who love their job as much as Adelene Stahnke. Monday could be any day when you love what you do. She’s chosen a career path that may be hard work, but it’s also high in rewards.
“I love Monday’s because I have so many ideas in my head from my days off and I can finally get stuck into the kitchen again and just create.
A typical Monday for me is very fast paced and focused. It’s a big day of preparation and it’s the perfect time to set new goals and cook even better than you did the previous week.”
Adelene graduated from Culinary Management (Commercial Cookery) at William Blue in 2014. Excited by the idea of experimenting with new cuisines and restaurant concepts, she decided to take an entrepreneurial approach to her career.
At just 24, she started her own successful Surry Hills restaurant alongside partner Tapos Singha, Bang Street Food, where she now works as sous chef.
Bang Street Food brings a contemporary twist to Bangladeshi street food. The delicious flavours and elegant design have made it a destination for locals and visitors alike.
Watch the episode of Element with Adelene Stahnke
“I thought learning to cook was the main priority, but I had to learn other important subjects that were relevant in running a successful business. I learned how to reach out to people and understand my target market, how to work out your businesses profit and loss, how to interview, roster and deal with employees in the workplace.
William Blue Dining, the live training restaurant at William Blue, operates the same way any other restaurant in the industry does, so I knew how a real restaurant works and how to conduct myself in that environment.”
Running your own restaurant is a different experience to working for someone else. Having also worked as head chef at the popular House of Crabs in Redfern, among other places, she knows what it’s like to do both.
“Being part of a restaurant starting, it’s very full on. You’re working for it, rather than for someone, so you put a lot more effort into it, at the beginning especially. It’s a lot of hard work.
I started feeling comfortable in the kitchen at Bang Street Food because it’s a safe, really open space where ideas can flow, and also I was cooking with basically my family.
Adelene’s secret recipe for a good life has only two simple ingredients: choose work that you already love, and never stop challenging yourself.
“I think the first time I learned to cook, as clichéd as it might sound, was with my grandmas – one being German, one being Indonesian. They have very different styles of cooking, but I learned from them, from a very young age.
What really drives me to cook is all the new trends. Some of the trends I really want to try myself, so I’ll really get stuck into it when I have time.
You don’t grow as a Chef until you’re out of your comfort zone.
Going into work and prepping food during the day is very therapeutic for me but I would also say that service is my favourite part of the job. I live for that adrenaline rush, and the pressure pushes you to think quickly on your feet.
Producing high-quality food and a great dining experience for customers is a very gratifying feeling.”
As any new graduate knows, it’s not easy starting out in your career. That ‘job of your dreams’ can sometimes feel like it’s a very long way away from being realised. No matter what you do, getting really good at it requires hard work, practice, and learning on the job.
But if you really love what you’re doing, you’ll be motivated to stick with it until you get there.
“When I cook I feel really comfortable, it’s really natural to me. In the beginning, it didn’t really feel natural, because I didn’t know that much. Now I feel like I’m in my element, and I trust my instincts and my taste buds more.
I know what needs to be done and what to expect of myself as well, so I feel quite comfortable now.”
So, what advice does she have for other young chefs hoping to start a business or follow their own path? As she told Concrete Playground last year;
“Stay focused, and as long as it’s still your hobby, you can make money from it because you love it.”
Love what you do, and you won’t even notice it’s Monday!
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