How to Make a Career in Culinary: Advice From the Executive Chef of William Blue Dining

Perhaps you’ve always had a passion for food, or you love providing great hospitality.

Now, you’re thinking about pursuing a career in this vibrant industry.

So, where do you start?

According to Jason Hannah, culinary education is your essential first step.

As the Executive Chef of William Blue Dining and Manager of Culinary Learning at William Blue, he would know!

How to Make a Career in Culinary

Like you, Jason has nursed a passion for food from an early age and decided to make it his livelihood. He studied both an Advanced Diploma of Hospitality, and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (Commercial Cookery Levels 1-3), to get to where he is today.

“I do enjoy cooking lots of different cuisines and it usually depends on what amazing ingredients and produce are available at the time. If I had to name one cuisine, then I would lean towards Italian, for it’s rustic and great flavour combinations.” – Jason

Over his 25-year career in the hospitality industry, he’s worked across a variety of roles including as Head Chef at several Sydney restaurants. Over ten years ago, Jason decided to go into teaching, to spend more time with his family.

Now he’s pursuing a new passion: training future industry leaders and watching them embark on their own journey.

“I decided to start teaching so that I would be able to have a better work/life balance. I made that decision almost 15 years ago, however, continued to work in the industry as well. Teaching hours are more conducive to being able to see family and friends when they are also not working.

Now, my role is demanding and full time, so currently I do not work in the industry as a chef, but I do occasional consultancy work.

In 2015, Jason was named the 2015 Teacher of the Year in Commercial Cookery at the Tourism, Hospitality and Catering Institute of Australia Teacher and Trainer of the Year Awards.

Clearly, he knows what he’s doing!

The culinary students who come into Jason’s kitchen are going to pick up a lot of essential skills, as well as an introduction to the business side of the industry they’re about to join.

“Our course is structured to give culinary students a very hands-on learning approach. Students start with basic foundation skills, all the way through to the more complex dishes, covering all forms of cooking, techniques, across a traditional and a modern focus.”

Best of all, his students get to practice their skills in the fully functioning ‘real world’ environment of the student run, William Blue Dining restaurant.

“They also have two trimesters where they are working at William Blue Dining, which embeds their important understanding of speed and accuracy within a restaurant and catering establishment environment. 

Students also learn the essential aspects of how to operate a business, including marketing, finance, wine and beverage matching to food etc. These are skills that will be invaluable to them as they move into more senior and/or management roles in their future careers.”

So, with all his years of experience in the industry and as a teacher, what advice does Jason have to offer aspiring culinary masters at the beginning of their career?

“Work hard, study well, read lots of books, immerse yourself in your industry, make great friends and enjoy what you do.

Think of where you want to be in 3 or 5 years time and how you want to achieve that. Start mapping a plan of the establishments that you want to work at, and with and for whom. 

You may not reach these achievements in the time that you want, but we all mature at different stages. It will happen and more importantly, it will happen at the right time for you, because when you are ready you will know. Good Luck!”

If you want Jason to be your teacher, read on and discover the commercial cookery and culinary courses on offer at William Blue.

Cook up your Culinary

Career

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