August 10, 2012
Cooking up a cultural storm
Aspiring young Indigenous chef Jessica Jeffress has realised her dream…after just a few days doing work experience at Jupiters Townsville, the talented 17-year-old was offered the chance of a lifetime - a fulltime chef apprenticeship.
Jess, who is of Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander heritage, is one of the talented students in the Cowboys’ Learn Earn Legend! program, a federally funded program supporting Indigenous students in Years 11 and 12 to complete their secondary education and move into further study, training or employment.
The former Townsville High Year 12 student, who had completed her Certificate II in hospitality at school, is now learning the finer culinary skills under the watchful eye of one of Townsville’s most respected chefs, Jupiters' executive chef Oden Gough, and after the completion of her three-year apprenticeship, will be a qualified chef.
“I had the opportunity to take up this apprenticeship so this is my first job and it’s awesome,’’ Jessica said.
“I also do a bit of cooking at home with Dad, so that inspired me to look at a career as a chef.
“The people are so friendly - I’m loving working in a kitchen.
“At the moment I’ve been doing breakfasts, so I haven’t had a taste of everything yet, but I am sure I will decide at some stage into the apprenticeship which area I want to specialise in.’’
Jessica said the Cowboys’ Indigenous education support program Learn Earn Legend! had helped her determine her career path.
“I would encourage anyone who can be part of this program to get involved ,’’ she said.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for advice - that’s what I did - and from there I got two weeks work experience at Jupiters, and that led to bigger and better things.
“Now I have a three-year apprenticeship from it.”
Jupiters executive chef Oden Gough said the business employed an average of six apprentice chefs each year, and they were proud to have their first Learn Earn Legend’ graduate working for them.
“Jessica has been with us now for only two weeks and she is already proving to be quite a stand-out apprentice,” Mr Gough said.
“She was here for a week’s work experience during her time with the Learn Earn Legend! program, and it what then that we identified her talents.
“Not only does Jessica show a lot of initiative in the kitchen, she is also very keen to learn.”
Learn Earn Legend! program co-ordinator Joel Johnston said the program, which began last year, now boasted more than 500 Indigenous Year 11 and 12 students signed up from 35 North Queensland schools, from as far north as Weipa and Cairns, Townsville, south down through the Burdekin, the Whitsundays, Bowen and Mackay, and west to Charters Towers.
“This great opportunity for Jess came about through her doing work experience while she was still at school,’’ Mr Johnston said.
“We can’t emphasise enough the importance of students doing work experience – it not only prepares them for the job market, but now and again, a student is talented enough to be offered a job on the spot, as Jess was, which is fantastic.’’
The Cowboys Learn Earn Legend! program has already been hailed a success, with 88 per cent of participating Indigenous students graduating Year 12 last year transitioning successfully into employment and further training in the fields of retail, business, hospitality, construction, mining and the performing arts, or into university courses as diverse as exercise science, nursing, education, science, law and international relations.
For more information contact:-
Jupiters: public relations executive Isis Symes: 0447 865 888
Fiona Pelling: 0409 945 705
Andy Toulson: 0404 330 269
Joel Johnston: 0488 000 242