"It was always a dream for us to study cookery here in Australia. It’s also a dream for us being part of the scholarship program at TAFE Queensland — we're loving this opportunity and enjoying as much as we can," Geysa said.
Leaving their old lives in Brazil behind to study a Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery (SIT40516 | 092021M) / Diploma of Hospitality Management (SIT50416 | 091046K) at TAFE Queensland's Toowoomba campus, the scholarship allowed the couple to focus on their real passion.
"In Brazil we had other jobs, but we always liked to cook at home for friends and family. Here in Australia we could transfer this passion to cook in our new profession — we are enjoying it a lot!" Leonardo said.
Living, studying and working together might not sound like a recipe for success for most couples, but Geysa and Leonardo take it all in their stride.
"It is challenging and also something that makes us grow. We have the same goals, we understand and support each other — we are in this journey together," Geysa said.
Not sure what to expect when they first arrived in the regional city of Toowoomba, the couple couldn't have been happier with their experience at TAFE Queensland.
"I would say TAFE has all the best equipment we need in the kitchen environment. The kitchen facilities here in Toowomba are amazing — we feel like we're cooking in a MasterChef kitchen," said Leonardo.
Geysa and Leonardo also appreciated the hands on, practical experience they received throughout their studies.
"Every unit we study has a theory and a practical part — one complements the other. It keeps all students interested in the classes and also makes the learning process better and faster."
"We also have facilities at TAFE that simulate a real service in a restaurant. This is an awesome opportunity to make yourself prepare for a real kitchen," he continued.
The couple were also impressed with the quality of the teaching staff and the overall learning environment at TAFE.
"The chefs have a lot of working and teaching experience and they are always open to help us with everything they can," said Geysa.
"Sharing so many experiences with students from so many countries is also something amazing, we learn every day from different cultures, languages and experiences."
Geysa and Leonardo are already putting their new skills into practice with the pair landing jobs at a local restaurant in Toowoomba while they complete their studies.
While the couple are loving being a part of the team at the restaurant, their long-term goal is to one day start their own business together.
"We have a goal to open a business after we finish our course at TAFE. We haven't decided yet between a restaurant or a café, but both of them are a dream for us and we are sure we can do this once we finish our learning process here in Toowoomba," Leonardo said.
Starting out a new career together has been a big change for the couple, but for anyone thinking of becoming a chef, Geysa would wholeheartedly recommend it.
"If you have a dream to become a chef we recommend that you go for it! It’s a beautiful profession with a lot of challenges and an ocean of knowledge — you will never feel bored," she said.
And for those wondering if TAFE Queensland is the right place to study, Leonardo says TAFE offered all the support they needed.
"They have the best system of education here in Australia. They also have people to help you to find a job, support you with your assessments, and always give you all the necessary help for you to become a good professional," he said.
The Destination Australia Program is designed to attract and support international and domestic students to study in regional Australia, to grow and develop regional Australian tertiary education providers and offer students a high quality learning experience.
TAFE Queensland is one of 35 tertiary education providers across 84 locations around Australia that has been successful in the 2020 round of the Destination Australia Program.
Scholarships are valued at $15,000 and will go towards some or all of the course tuition fees and will be available for students undertaking a certificate IV or diploma program at a number of regional TAFE Queensland campuses including Cairns, Townsville, Whitsundays, and Toowoomba.
For more information about the Destination Australia scholarships program, visit the Destination Australia site
Watch Geysa and Leonardo's story