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Finding the recipe for success

Success comes in many forms. For some, it’s being at the top of their field, but for others like freshly qualified chef and doting father-of-two Alan Webster, success is a happy family and a chance to follow his passion.

After moving with his young family from the United Kingdom to the Sunshine Coast in pursuit of a better lifestyle, Alan Webster seized the opportunity to change careers and turn his dream of becoming a chef into reality. While it was a leap from his work as a business developer back home, Alan said he had grown bored and craved a change of scenery that went beyond his actual surroundings.

“I kept thinking, ‘I’ve uprooted and moved my family all the way from England to Australia, I may as well choose something that I actually want to do’."

“I’d never actually done cheffing before, but back home I was always excited by cooking.”

With a new vision in mind, Alan enrolled in the Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery/Diploma of Hospitality Management (SIT40516/SIT50416) at TAFE Queensland’s Mooloolaba campus.

Learning the most up-to-date and sought-after skills and techniques in the campus’s purpose-built industrial kitchens, Alan said the quality hands-on experience he gained during his studies has proven invaluable.

“The Mooloolaba campus has a live, open restaurant that gives you a good taste of what it’s really like out in the industry and a chance to put everything you learn into practice. It’s open to the public and the night I was head chef, we actually sold out!” Alan said.

“We had to deliver an eight-course meal, which as the head chef, involved everything from planning the meal, costing the meal and ordering the stock, to taking bookings. You had to fully run the kitchen as a head chef — it was an amazing experience.”

Alan’s appetite to master the skills he was learning quickly gained the attention of his teachers, who recommended him to their contacts within the local industry. As a result, Alan picked up a job at Brightwater Hotel just weeks into his studies, where he worked for the entire two-year duration of his studies.

“They [his teachers] are definitely well networked and they’re always keeping ahead of trends, which is great for us as students as you’re always learning the most current stuff that will ensure we’re all industry ready,” Alan said.

After completing his qualification in May 2020, Alan was offered his dream job at one of the Sunshine Coast’s most prestigious and critically acclaimed restaurants — Spirit House. But while getting to work for such an innovative and well-regarded restaurant was an opportunity Alan is incredibly grateful for, the committed father realised little more than a month into the role that the key to his happiness lay in spending time with his fiancée and their two young sons. With this in mind, Alan made the decision to swap shift work for more family-friendly hours, taking on the role of chef at Evolution Childcare, where he works weekdays during daylight hours.

“My off days were Mondays and Tuesdays and because they’re at school, I barely saw the kids. Now, I'm able to properly spend time with my family and when I come back in to work after a weekend, I actually feel like I’ve had time off,” Alan said.

While COVID-19 has forced them to put their dreams on hold, Alan and Kim have big plans for the future, with the couple currently arranging their wedding for 2021 and preparing the groundwork to open a restaurant of their own.