It is out of the frying pan and into the fire of high end restaurants for indigenous apprentice chef Lochlan Simms.
It is out of the frying pan and into the fire of high end restaurants for indigenous apprentice chef Lochlan Simms.

The program giving young chefs a step up

It is out of the frying pan and into the fire of high end restaurants for this young apprentice.

Lochlan Simms, 25, got a foot in the door at Rockpool Bar and Grill thanks to the National indigenous Culinary Institute's Skills for Success program.

The young culinary star impressed his superiors with his passion for food during the four-week placement and has now been offered an apprenticeship with the prestigious dining institution.

"I just love cooking. I used to always help my nan cook family food like bolognese, curries, and roasts," he said.

The Little Bay local said he expected sparks to fly in the high end kitchen but said everyone was very professional.

Apprentice chef Lochlan Simms in the kitchen at Rockpool Bar and Grill. Picture: Toby Zerna
Apprentice chef Lochlan Simms in the kitchen at Rockpool Bar and Grill. Picture: Toby Zerna

"It is a very well renowned restaurant so I was a bit nervous but I am easing into things. "Everyone is nice and supportive. I expected it to be a lot scarier," he said.

His boss, executive chef Corey Costelloe, said they could never tell which new recruits would be able to handle the heat of the kitchen.

"You don't know if they have what it takes to be a chef, and they don't know either," he said.

"It is a learning on the job but having a passion for food is the first thing they need."

He said while things might have changed, kitchens were still high pressure environments behind the scenes.

"There are a lot easier ways to make money out there, there are a lot of careers where you don't get yelled at and screamed at and you don't do big long days standing on your feet," he said.

"It is hard work and it is not for everyone."

Other restaurants involved in the program include Catalina and Icebergs Dining Room and Bar.

NSW Skills Minister Geoff Lee applauded the program for helping young indigenous people get a foot in the door.

"This creates a direct training pathway for the participants to follow to be employed as paid commercial cookery apprentices in fine dining restaurants," he said.

Originally published as How aspiring indigenous chef got a foot in the door at Rockpool


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