Mikaly's pride in being an apprentice chef is the perfect recipe for success

21 January 2022

Mikaly Smith's passion for food and cooking combined with CQUniversity's hospitality training have earned her a finalist nomination in the 2022 Proud to Be a Chef Competition.

Based out of Melbourne and run by Fonterra' The Proud to be a Chef program recognises' develops and supports apprentice chefs to become the culinary leaders of tomorrow.

Although COVID-19 means this year's competition is unable to go ahead' Mikaly' who is currently working as an apprentice at Whisk Yeppoon and Creative Cater' while studying a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at CQU TAFE' was proud to be named as a finalist.

"Being chosen as a Proud to Be a Chef finalist is a huge honour' but being chosen came with a lot of behind the scenes work'" she said.

"Each year the competition chooses 32 apprentice finalists and to be chosen you have to design a dish that both displays who you are as a chef' while incorporating products that are owned by Fonterra- the main company behind Proud to be a Chef.

"As well as designing the dish' you are required to express your passion for the industry' where you want your apprenticeship to take you and overall' why you are "Proud to be a Chef". In the lead up to entering' I worked on many different dishes to find one that displayed who I was as a chef' what ingredients I loved to use the most as well as the skill level that I possess. There was a lot of time and effort and much planning that went into the final dish that I entered into the Proud to Be a Chef Competition.

"Being a finalist not only offers an amazing food and mentor experience' it's a recognizable achievement in my chef portfolio."

Mikaly said that food and cooking was a passion she'd always been drawn to.

"It was something that I always came back to no matter what I was doing in my life. It wasn't until the first Covid Lockdown when many hospitality venues shut that I began to cook and bake in order to earn an income and it was from here that I began to see that something I loved to do could become my full-time job'" she said.

"I was also drawn to the fact that there was so much to learn and hospitality is a forever changing industry and that being a chef meant that you could work but also be constantly be able to learn and push the barriers of food and what it has to offer.

"I chose CQU to study at as I had undertaken previous study there and found it to be to a high standard. For me' CQU was a good option to undertake the training as it meant I did not have to move away from home and was able to work within an area that I was already familiar with. Once deciding to begin the apprenticeship' CQU was helpful with my enrolment into TAFE and the whole process behind it."

She encouraged anyone considering becoming an apprentice chef to study hospitality at CQU.

"CQU TAFE has a lot to offer in regards to studying Hospitality. In a forever changing industry' CQU keeps up to date and challenges the students that choose this subject and career path. The mentors and the staff at CQU are super helpful and try to tailor to your skill levels as well as push and challenge you ready for real-life industry work'" she said.

"If you're considering becoming a chef' it is a career that demands hard work' but if you are passionate about food and love being able to consistently learn new things and challenge yourself then it is a worthwhile career to get into.

"Hospitality is constantly changing and being able to learn through CQU' whilst actively learning through industry provides a good balance and is a key to success in studying at CQU and completing an apprenticeship to become a chef."