Melbourne Polytechnic graduate and caterer, Sharyn Frantz, discovered a passion for cooking when she turned 40.
She completed a hospitality course at Melbourne Polytechnic and now runs her own catering business, baking pastries, pies and lunches for local cafes, and making cakes and canapés for parties and functions.
As Melbourne Polytechnic student, Sharyn Frantz, contemplated turning 40, she knew it was time to change careers. “I was having a sort of midlife crisis,” she explains. Having worked as an academic researcher before having her two children, Sharyn was determined to find a career she enjoyed. “I borrowed a book from the library called The Passion Test, and discovered that for me, cooking was definitely number one.”
Now just weeks away from finishing her Certificate III in Hospitality (Patisserie) , Sharyn spends her days creating tasty pastries, pies and lunches in the commercial kitchen at her Woodend home. She started her business, Blackbird Catering six months ago aided by a $1000 Melbourne Polytechnic study grant award donated by Cedar Hospitality Supplies. The awards are presented to students who have achieved academic excellence, or demonstrated enthusiasm and commitment to their studies.
Sharyn now supplies a local café with pastries, sausage rolls and pies, and makes cakes, meals and canapés for parties and functions. “This is the first job I’ve had where I don’t look at the clock to see how long is left in the day. The only reason I look at the clock now is when I’ve put something in the oven! I adore it. It’s very flexible. It can work around the family and it’s very rewarding,” she says.
Changing careers involved a steep learning curve. But Sharyn was grateful for the support offered at Melbourne Polytechnic. “The industry knowledge there is the number one thing. The teachers have been fabulous and really great to work with.” Running her own business meant that Sharyn particularly valued the practical experience gained in Melbourne Polytechnic’s commercial kitchens. “It’s very hands-on. I talk about what I’m doing at home and they’re really interested in how they can help.”
Sharyn’s passion for food extends to running a seasonal cook-up at her local Woodend Primary school, to educate the children about food. Everyone donates produce from their garden and Sharyn and a friend cook a meal for 350 students and staff. “I really want an opportunity to teach kids about food – that’s part of my plan.”
Blackbird Catering is aimed at people who care about healthy sustainable eating. Sharyn uses raspberries, strawberries and a range of veggies and herbs from her own garden. “I make sure it’s good food even if I’m just making sandwiches. People are more aware of what they’re putting into their bodies and they’re more interested.”
Certificate III in Hospitality (Patisserie)