Forget making sandwiches on kitchen work placements – it’s all about the real experience of working in the hospitality industry for students at John Therry, Rosemeadow. A team of more than 30 Year 12 Hospitality students have prepared, cooked and served a delicious three-course dinner to a packed dining room at the Campbelltown Catholic Club – with glowing reviews!
The Catholic Club has partnered with John Therry for its new Soup Plus Program, providing a comprehensive learning experience for aspiring chefs and restaurant workers. Students have been given the opportunity to work in the club’s kitchen one day a week all this term, absorbing new industry skills and practising a range of elements that made up their six dishes for service. The club's staff have spent time training the students in culinary skills, food and customer service, and other processes related to a career in hospitality.
The dinner last week was the culmination of the group completing 20 hours’ placement and training. Whisks, spatulas and tongs in hand on the night, the students worked hard to showcase all they’d learned over the past several weeks, serving their prepared alternate drop three-course menu to 60 special diners – parents, teachers and club staff, all there to support them and applaud their progress.
What the students said:
"This experience really allowed me to know what the reality of spending time in the workforce is like. The chefs were lovely to us, giving us constant constructive critiques while ensuring we understood all the elements of the task. The night was tiring as there was no time to sit down, but as we realised, that’s part of the highs and lows of working in the industry” – Alina
"It was a great chance to work with professional chefs in a real kitchen. I was inspired!" – Zac
"I felt supported and encouraged this whole experience. It was great working as part of a team" – Teleah
"It was a more comfortable experience working with friends and peers. Working in a large group gave us a lot more confidence and we didn't feel like we were on our own. This also pushed us harder to provide a great experience for our customers” – Natalie
"The experience prepared me for working in the outside world. I learned to listen to my peers and work within a set timeframe" – Tahlia
"I loved watching the parents and teachers enjoying the food we prepared as a class" – Dylan
"I learned a lot from this experience. It was a great opportunity to learn and appreciate teamwork" – Calista
John Therry Vocational Education & Training (VET) Coordinator, Angela Cascarino, said the Soup Plus experience has been “one of the most exciting and supportive programs” she’d seen, catering to a diverse range of students.
“Usually students attend their work placements on their own, which is a daunting prospect for many young people. But this way, hospitality students can work alongside their peers, ask questions of world-class chefs and work effectively at their own rate in a realistic setting."
"VET subjects in schools aim to educate children in more than just academic content. They’re designed to bridge the gap between industry and school, linking learning with realistic work experiences and placements. The Soup Plus Program has helped do just that. It’s provided our students with much more than just a token visit or observation session on an industry – it’s specifically developing our students' skills in key areas of the hospitality industry."
"This level of education and training takes our students’ learning to new levels and areas of skill and expertise. It’s allowed them to experience all facets of the industry, working alongside experts. The change in confidence of our students has been immediate. They are able to connect their classroom learning to realistic industry, knowing the classroom reflects actual processes" — Angela Cascarino, VET Coordinator, John Therry Rosemeadow
“The VET staff at John Therry are so proud of our students and grateful for the opportunity the Catholic Club has provided to support learning in a practical way. We hope to be able to provide this program as an ongoing opportunity for our students, and will continue to develop partnerships with industry leaders in the Macarthur region."
Peter Sheppard, chef and the club’s Director of Food and Beverage, has worked with the students throughout the program and said the opportunity “takes the students out of the comfort zone of their own school kitchens.”
“We need to be exposing students to, and educating them about, what they’re really looking at getting themselves into [in hospitality], so they can make a more informed decision [about their career and future],” Sheppard said.
“We're so proud of what the students have achieved and the role we’ve been able to play in providing a program that gives them a real experience in a commercial kitchen and a genuine insight into a career in the industry” — Campbelltown Catholic Club
Sheppard said the program worked so well, he hopes to expand it and get other clubs involved.
Ms Cascarino agreed, acknowledging the significant mutual benefits of the program. "Soup Plus is one of the best initiatives the Catholic Club could provide to schools in the region. In return, they are developing the future of the hospitality industry in the Macarthur region."
“I would challenge all clubs to work alongside schools in such a manner. The chance to educate an industry is worth the energy, time and resources. This investment in the future generations of hospitality workers in the Macarthur is a practical, equitable and invaluable way to teach our children – far beyond any financial investment."
THE MENU – Here’s what the students prepared and served for their three-course meal:
Beef and mushroom tortellini, mixed vegetables and tarragon broth; or pumpkin, spinach and fetta quiche with sweet potato and beetroot chips.
Chicken Wellington, celeriac puree and wilted spinach; or slow-cooked lamb shank, crushed peas and potato puree.
Lemon tart, scorched meringue, chocolate sorbet, chocolate tuile and black current coulis; or date cake, candied pistachios, citrus zest and vanilla cream anglaise.
In The Media
Macarthur Advertiser, 27 June 2019 – Student masterchefs prepare three-course meal for Catholic Club diners