Corey Carnegie fell into the cooking world and stayed there for 14 years. Then he knew it was time to change direction.
‘One of my friends’ brothers was a chef, I never really thought about it too much, I happened to get a job and it was a really good job and I didn’t look back after that and just carried on in the cooking world’.
The course of his early culinary career took him overseas, to Germany and to London where he worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, worked for the best chefs around and soaked up the experience.
Back in Melbourne he worked for Philippe Mouchel and enjoyed preparing French brasserie food, but didn’t enjoy what was turning into an unhealthy lifestyle. ‘I wanted to have more of a work-life balance and I wasn’t really getting that,’ Corey says.
But making a career move wasn’t so easy. ‘When I left the cooking world it was pretty hard to change because I didn’t know where I was going to work.’ Corey joined a friend working at a cheese company, where he used his culinary knowledge to sell the products, and while that was enjoyable, it wasn’t his ‘something’. ‘That was part of looking to find what I wanted to do, I did it for four years, sometimes it takes that long to find what you really want to do.’
He told an architect friend he didn’t really know what he wanted to do, and was reminded that straight out of school he had started a carpentry apprenticeship, and his father is a builder. ‘He said maybe you should be a draughtie, you know how things go together, you’ve done building with your dad, you know how to read plans, it would be a perfect job for you.’ (Draughtie’s slang for draughtsperson) ‘So I took his advice and started looking at that path and found Melbourne Polytechnic.’
Corey’s now halfway through the second year of his Advanced Diploma of Building Design (Architectural) and says his past experience is helping his studies now. ‘I worked with my father doing renovations and extensions and general house building and for my first year of Building Design it’s all about residential construction so I flew through that, I understand how houses are built, I can see it, I can draw it, which is so helpful,’ he says.
This year Corey went on a two-week study tour to China where he and fellow students visited two schools - the Hebei College of Industry and Technology, south of Beijing, and the Sichuan College of Architectural Technology.
‘It was a good opportunity to see how things are done in a different country, especially China where there is so much development happening,’ he says. ‘It was a great experience for me, a good insight to more commercial construction which in a way is pushing me down this path for a future career.’
When he’s finished studying Corey says he’ll look for work in an architecture or a building design office.
‘At the moment I’m doing commercial construction and I feel drawn to this, I really like this, I think somewhere in the commercial side of building design, maybe for an architect or a builder.’ His long-term plan is having his own business – and a work-life balance that suits his trajectory more than the chef life.
And reflecting on his career change process, Corey says it’s definitely worth it. ‘Once I’d really thought about it and talked it out with people and had them giving me advice and that confidence boost of saying “hey I’m in the industry, your experience is valuable”, that really opened it up for me,’ he says.
‘I can do that, I will do that, I owe a lot of where I am now to that one friend who really kicked me in the direction.’
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