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For the Love of Cooking

26 Mar 2013

When Taylors Hill resident Iain Capovilla first embarked on an apprenticeship in Commercial Cookery over two years ago, he believed there wasn't much to cooking and that anyone could be a chef.

Having tossed the garlic and spices at his family home during his secondary school days and enjoyed working in the heat of a kitchen, Iain, 20, thought cooking was a simple albeit good job.

Now, as a third-year apprentice in the trade at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) and working for Avanti of Witchmount winery/restaurant in Rockbank, Iain has been forced to confront the more difficult and complex reality of slaving over hot saucepans on a stove.

Moreover, he is now in training for 10 hours a week for the Dura Wear Club Chef VICTAFE Cookery Challenge competition on 4 July where he and two other commercial cookery apprentices at NMIT will put their culinary creativity to the test under tight time constraints and strong pressure in the kitchen at a city TAFE.

Apprentice teams from about 10 TAFE institutes from around Victoria will compete in the Challenge, where apprentices have a day to prepare a three-course meal from a box of secret ingredients.

The Challenge was first introduced in 1998 to promote excellence and encourage achievement within Victoria 's cookery student community.

Judges are top executive chefs from some of Melbourne 's leading hotels and points are allocated on the skills of cooking, hygiene, OH&S, menu planning and design, teamwork, product identification and presentation.

While Iain acknowledged he had been very naïve in his understanding of what a chef did just a few years ago, he is now working long hours in what he accepts is a very demanding job. He also admitted that he is looking forward to the Challenge, but is nervous as well as excited about competing against other apprentices.

'I've certainly come to know that cooking well is not that simple. It's quite difficult to be a good chef and I also didn't realise how creative it could be. For me, cooking is now an art form that requires imagination and flair to achieve the right taste with the right ingredients.

'I want to be able to put a meal out there where the customer goes- wow, I've never tasted anything like this before,' Iain said.

And similarly, for the Cookery Challenge.

Iain added the competition was a very positive experience to go through that required self-motivation and creativity that would enhance his skills and confidence.

'The NMIT team has already been in training for six weeks. We are training about five hours a day two days a week and I'm excited and looking forward to the competition. '

Growing up with an Italian grandmother on his father's side and an Australian family on his mother's side, Iain said he had experienced both grand European styles of food as well as traditional Australian tucker as he grew up.

'I always loved cooking too and it was creative to explore and experiment with different foods to see what I could make,' Iain said.

'I usually did roasts and pastas during my teenage years, but I am learning so much now working with professional chefs and certainly know it's not easy to be a good chef.'


Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.