Recovering from a car accident, it was cooking and baking that motivated Ashleigh Robinson to get out of bed each day.
A Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics graduate, Ash became so passionate that a friend encouraged her to enrol in Commercial Cookery and Patisserie courses at Holmesglen. And she hasn’t looked back!
Ash says she was initially a “little prejudiced” about coming to TAFE. “But I’ve definitely been converted. The class sizes are smaller and more hands-on, so the chefs really get to know each student and you get to see - and taste - the fruits of your labour.
“It’s clear they really want you to do well. All the chefs here are so engaging and unbelievably talented, I just try to soak up as much of their knowledge as I can.
“Coming from a university background, this was a huge change for me. I was used to being in classes of over 60 students, the lecturers didn’t know your name and most of your learning is spent looking at lecture slides.”
Having won silver at the AUSTAFE regionals for Commercial Cookery and gold at the Victorian TAFE Patisserie Challenge in a masterclass marathon competition, Ash now is keen to marry her nutritional knowledge with her cooking skills, working in product development in the food industry.
Growing up in a multicultural home developed Ash’s deep love of food.
And being named Year 12 Dux in the Food and Technology subject at school cemented her food industry career path.
“I went to Zest Restaurant [at the Holmesglen Glen Waverley campus] for a banquet event and was blown away by the quality of the food. I thought, ‘hey, I’ve got to learn how to make this stuff.’ I enrolled and have never looked back.”
What can you do with a commercial cookery course?
The SIT40516 Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery gives students practical and technical cookery skills that are taught across classroom and simulated kitchen environments.
“I’ve gained so many practical skills, from the basics of how to correctly use your knife to breaking down poultry, fish and red meats, to the fine art of pastry – learning how to temper chocolate, make gorgeous layer cakes and pastries,” says Ash.
In addition to hands-on skills, cookery students also learn about:
Ash has also utilised the knowledge she gained when studying the SIT31016 Certificate III in Patisserie, including insights into food safety and dietary requirements.
Ash says she has really benefitted from her course’s strong practical learning opportunities.
She has participated in Paddock to Plate, an initiative for Holmesglen students to attend masterclasses and workshops at the award-winning Holmesglen at Eildon.
"We got to go to different food producers (olive oil, chocolate, fish, cattle, micro-herbs, and more) and learn about how they grow their products.
“We also learned from guest head chefs about how to prepare all the food. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Ash says she is excited to use these new skills to pursue a future career in product development.
“I would love to marry both my nutritional knowledge with my cooking skills. I think creating a new food product and walking into stores to see it on shelves would just be the coolest thing ever.”
Find out more about our cookery and patisserie courses and how to apply.