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Annie's passion for hospitality brings her to Australia

After COVID-19 greatly affected the hospitality industry and Annie Craig's successful career in luxury accommodation and catering stalled, she decided to move to Australia and refine her skills with TAFE Queensland.

Having worked in five-star hotel management in Thailand and luxury catering services in Japan, Annie moved to Australia with her husband. She wanted to own her own catering business one day.

"I already have a Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality and Tourism and spent ten years working in Bangkok and Phuket's hotel industry, from face-to-face guest services to assisting the General Manager with hotel administration," explained Annie.

"Then, when my husband moved to Japan, I got the chance to work as a high-end caterer in a ski resort for three years, managing bookings, visiting guests in the chalets and producing fine dining experiences for them, which made me realise I enjoyed cooking so much."

"I liked cooking before I studied for my bachelor's degree in Thailand, and my mother cooked her whole life. But the work was hard, and she didn't want me to follow in her footsteps, but it's my passion," said Annie.

Then when the pandemic struck Japan, Annie and her husband decided to move to Australia. Wanting to perfect her communication skills to navigate Australian life better, Annie came to TAFE Queensland to learn English, which opened her eyes to education opportunities.

"One day, I want to have my own restaurant business in Australia, and education will get me there," she said.

"But before I enrol to study commercial cookery, I wanted to learn hospitality the Australian way, so I have an overall picture of how to run a business here."

Helping the Certificate III in Hospitality (SIT30616) student achieve her goal of owning her own business is her hospitality job at FarmRAK Signature Restaurant in Ascot.

Owned and operated by a former TAFE Queensland hospitality student Gauel (Bella) Kim, and her husband Nat Chumchujan, the FarmRAK team have achieved what Annie is embarking on and are helping her to achieve her goals.

Bella first came to Australia from Korea in 2018 as part of the KMOVE program. She successfully graduated with the same certificate under the guidance of Hospitality Teacher Cath Quick.

Four years on Cath saw the same qualities in Annie, so she introduced her to the FarmRAK team to fast track her development and has since watched their professional relationship grow.

"I love to teach my students and watch them succeed – it's what makes working in education so worthwhile. Hopefully, this is just the start of Annie's long and happy career," said Cath.

"The combination of her TAFE training and on the job experience means that Annie is getting lots of confidence and her training comes to life through real-world experience."

Also helping Annie get the skills and experience she needs to adapt to life in Australia and understand the market here are her classmates.

"I worked in Asia for so long, predominantly working with Thai and Japanese people, which is a different kind of culture. Here, it's more international, so it's a big adaptation, but it's a good one, and I'm learning all the practical skills for the job while learning those cultural norms."

She also credits her teachers and TAFE's facilities and equipment for helping to adapt to her new country and industry while learning about her new profession.

"We have access to every facet of the industry here and learn in a hands-on way. For example, we learn how to be a barista by making coffee in the Club Bar, front of house management and table service in the Bistro and fine dining and bar service in the restaurant 66 on Ernst – all for real customers."

Annie plans to continue working at FarmRAK, finish her qualification, then complete a certificate in commercial cookery to confidently embark on her business venture with the skills and knowledge to be a success.

"I want to own and operate a business that cooks modern Thai and Asian fusion food with customer participation, using local ingredients. Currently, there's nothing of the sort, so I think I might have the opportunity to start it."