Cooking is all about passion, and if you love cooking, there is an opportunity for you to pursue cooking as a paid profession.
This was the message from Chef Lance Seeto’s special lecture during the Masterclass run by the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) at the Pacific Fusion Restaurant and Training Kitchen in Suva.
Chef Seeto, an award-winning international food and travel writer, author and television presenter, specialises in regional and Fijian cuisine. He is one of the only chefs in the world who has received continued training in nutritional medicine and biochemistry as a member of the world-renowned Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (ACNEM) in Melbourne.
He has worked closely with Tourism Fiji to ignite a national culinary revolution by encouraging people and the tourism sector to think creatively about food and to embrace their culture through tropical island cuisine.
APTC, which is an Australian Government funded development program, works with Fiji’s culinary industry by participating in their “I want to be a chef” program, which involves industry-certified training.
This is aimed at bridging knowledge gaps, better preparing students for the workforce, and identifying those ready for work attachments.
Chef Seeto shared that if people are cooking at home with passion, then they have the potential to become a chef, adding that institutions like APTC play a key role in helping people achieve this.
“I would rather find and identify people who have the passion to cook, not just because of the money, but because of the rewards that come with it,” he said.
Chef Seeto resonates in particular with APTC’s Certificate III in Commercial Cookery (SIT30816), noting that it produces industry-ready cooks.
“Part of the problem in the past has been that the students that come out of training institutions are not industry-ready, which takes us a lot more time to get them ready, so it is important for us as executive chefs to come out and assist these institutions,” Chef Seeto stressed.
“Coming to a commercial kitchen, everyone is screaming and shouting at you, and that is the kind of pressure you will get, so in a way, what APTC has been doing with their work placements and excursions to the commercial kitchens are great, it gives the students a chance to see what it is really like in the real world.”
During the class, students were taken aback by the methods and use of ingredients they witnessed.
One student, Saroj Wati, explained that Chef Seeto reminded them about the basic ingredients used by their grandmothers in the kitchen, such as natural oils like ghee and coconut oil for cooking. Saroj said the class was all about being creative with food while including local ingredients.
“In my nine years of industry experience, this opportunity is different, and I know that this will take me far,” she commented.
APTC’s Country Director for Fiji and Tuvalu, Jovesa Saladoka, said Chef Seeto is well respected within APTC, thanking him for sharing his experiences and techniques.
“This is a vital component of our learning, that our currency is in harmony with local cuisine and traditional food practices,” Mr Saladoka said.
Three Masterclasses have been scheduled for this semester at APTC for students.