Tasmania proudly supports Ben Standen

Tasmania proudly supports Ben Standen

  • Published on Friday, November 11, 2011

Tasmanians are proudly supporting Benjamin Standen, a 22-year-old apprentice at Lebrina Restaurant New Town, Tasmania.

Ben has won the 2011 Tasmanian Training Awards as Apprentice of the Year and is now a finalist for the 2011 Australian Training Awards – Apprentice of the Year category.

He is studying his Certificate III Hospitality (Commercial cookery) through the MEGT Institute.

‘When I was 16 years old I became a father, and studying full-time without a reliable income was not an option. This is why I chose to start an apprenticeship in commercial cookery and embraced my passion for food. The fact that I could undertake study through on the job training and assessment with MEGT Institute and work full time enabled me to support and fulfill my obligations to my family whilst gaining a qualification. I have not looked back since.’

During his apprenticeship, Ben attended the ‘Chef’s In the City’ program in Melbourne where he realised just how far his apprenticeship could take him. He also attended Symposia of Australian Gastronomy where he learned about the needs and views of others in the workplace and to understand the cultural and religious needs of customers.

In March 2010 Ben was invited to represent MEGT Institute in the Young Chef’s Cookery Competition held at the Taste of the Huon. The competition involved cooking four main course plates for four judges within an hour, using a mystery box of ingredients revealed ten minutes prior to the start of the competition. The tent was hot, the facilities inadequate and the 200 strong crowd daunting. ‘I won 1st place in my division (2nd year apprentice),’ explains Ben,’ impressing the judges and receiving a generous prize from the Huon Agricultural Group. However the knowledge and confidence I gained from the experience far outshone the money I received. Coming back to the Huon Valley where I grew up, seeing family and friends, and showing them what I had achieved and can achieve in my apprenticeship was remarkable.’
Vocational education delivered by MEGT Institute is entirely work-related and is delivered on-the-job, so the combination of Ben’s course and his work experience at Lebrina Restaurant has taught him the importance of effective communication as well as food skills.

‘Communication in the workplace is imperative not only to maintain our high standards of quality, consistency and customer service,’ explains Ben, ‘but also to deal with dietary requirements, allergies and intolerances. For example we have had customers enter the restaurant with dangerous allergies to fermented products (vinegar, wine, etc) or intolerance to sodium (highly present in salt) and if all staff are not aware of the conditions, the consequences can be deadly.

‘Two events which have tested my level of self-reliance, resilience, teamwork and communication skills are a Cooking Class and Lunch for Ports Australia and a Degustation Dinner held off site in a customer’s private residence.

‘On the 28th October 2010 Ports Australia commissioned Lebrina Restaurant to conduct a cookery class and serve lunch to 18 of its staff from all over Australia. I was heavily involved in the class, and was required to not only demonstrate my cookery skills in front of the customers but also to discuss the techniques being used. Even though I was nervous, the class was a great success, and some of the Ports Australia group came back to the restaurant the following evening for dinner.

On the 16th April 2011 Lebrina Restaurant held a degustation dinner involving seven courses at a private residence for a client and 15 of their guests. Going into an unknown kitchen at 5pm to serve dinner at 7pm was challenging and stressful. To move seven courses of prepared ingredients, as well as crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils and a myriad of other items to the venue took perfect communication and organisation, and were key to the dinner’s success.

‘Through both the Cookery class and the offsite Degustation dinner I found in myself a level of leadership I did not realise I possessed. The leadership gained through the daily work in my apprenticeship, I will take with me through my entire career, whether it be in Hospitality or otherwise.’

Ben fits in his passion for food with the joy and responsibility of raising his daughter, Kate. ‘Working in an Apprenticeship with on the job training has given me the flexibility to do that,’ he says.

“My message to other apprentices, and those interested in an apprenticeship is clear; don’t hold back, work hard everyday both at work and outside of it. If you are passionate about what you want, and work hard everyday to get it, you will. Your apprenticeship can take you there.”