Becoming a Pastry Chef in a fine dining restaurant in Australia

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Hi there we’re Ali and Inò, a couple in our thirties with an overwhelming passion for travelling.

Both of us have been working in hospitality for years. I myself have worked as a waitress and a barmaid in several bars and restaurants; Inò was a chef in a « brasserie de luxe » in France.

The restaurant industry is perfect for us as it allows us work and travel abroad.

We have always dreamed of settling overseas and after a good think, we decided to explore that idea..

Prepare to read all about our journey, more particularly Inò’s experience as a Pastry Chef in Australia.

Inò’s journey

Inò has a vast array of diplomas. He has the French equivalent of an NVQ level 1 & 2 and a Cooking Vocational Diploma. Amongst many of his professional experiences, he has worked for a year in Liverpool (England) and for a year “chez Bocuse” in Florida (USA).

He has managed to build up his reputation as a Pastry Chef thanks to his iron will and a strong spirit. Having become deeply passionate for pastries, he is relentlessly trying to outdo himself and taking his work one step further. He loves putting his mind to creating new and original sweet treats that will please eyes and taste-buds alike!

  

 

Leaving for Australia

At first, we had our eyes set on two countries for our travels : America and Australia. As we started weighing the pros and cons, Australia quickly began to emerge as the better choice.

As I was under 31, I was eligible for a Working Holiday Visa and Inò, due to his job being on the work-shortage list, had a great chance of being granted a sponsorship, allowing him to stay indefinitely in Australia. It only took a few days for our decision to come through: Australia it was.

We studied the work market for the restaurant industry (especially for Inò), looked into all the necessary paperwork, decided on our budget and finally, we informed our loved-ones.

We were looking at a forum full of work adverts from our home in France when we stumbled upon an opening for a chef in a restaurant that had only opened a few months prior.

Inò’s qualifications and work experience were well above what was desired in the ad, as such, the owner was immediately interested. Negotiations were swift and easy: a promised sponsorship after a few days trial was on offer. We agreed that we would stay with the owners family as Help-Xers until we signed a final contract.

After booking a single-fare from Paris to Sydney, here we are in Australia!

I came on a Working Holiday Visa, and Inò on a e-Visitor Tourist visa which was valid for three months and can be renewed three times. The procedure to apply for a sponsorship via a company (457 visa) is long and dear, for the business as well as for the applicant.

The owner, who remember, promised Inò a sponsorship, finally came clean and confessed that he could not afford to sponsor him. Despite his impeccable background and abilities, the process would have been too long and expensive for this newly created business.

Luckily, we were able to quickly find work elsewhere. We are now working together, in a fantastic fine-dining restaurant in Pokolbin, New South Wales.

I am a kitchen-hand and Inò managed to get sponsored as a Pastry Chef. Thanks to Inò’s sponsorship, we have been granted temporary residence for the next four years, with the possibility of asking for permanent residency after two.

 

Working in Australian restaurants and pastry shops

The French Touch
So what does a pastry chef actually do? In essence, he will create beautiful plated deserts.

When it comes to haute cuisine pastries, the French Touch is a considerable asset. French savoir-faire is very gratifying, it can open many international doors as long as you have the required competence and experience in tow. That, and a passion for the job of course.

Pastry making is all about deftness and rigour, precision and great thoroughness. Every single touch must be flawless, flavour and textures need to be mastered. Perfect cooking and handling of all ingredients are a must.

Pastry making is a profession that inspires and fascinates. Whenever we say that Inò is a (French) pastry maker, people answer in awe “Pastry making is not only a difficult job, it’s a wonderful one too! How lucky you are, on top of that, you’re French too!

  

 

Work conditions

Yes, pastry making is a wonderful job, and yes it’s a hard one too!

Stating all that is one thing, living it is another. How often has one heard a bellowing chef say « Let’s get stuck in!! ».

The things that make the job so difficult are essentially the same everywhere, be it in France or Australia.

Breaks are rare, standing all day long, carrying heavy loads, working through unbearable temperatures (allow me to remind you that it gets up to 47° in summer in Australia!)

Every day is pretty much the same rate of work, the same rhythm, the same battles. But we manage to keep our chins up!

One of the more important aspects of the job is being ready for the evening service. We must be at our best and deliver excellence. At the end of some shifts, every step taken in the kitchen becomes heavier than the last, the slightest effort becomes the hardest, but in doing so we manage to do that one thing that keeps us going: putting a smile on our customers face.You will be able to share the arduous experience with many of your co-workers as you’ll be with them for up to 17 hours a day. All of this is followed by a tremendous fatigue which will keep you tucked in bed on your days off and leads to a loss of desire… Sometimes.

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Working in Australia

The hardest thing to deal with being a Chef in a foreign country is quickly getting used to a new language. In the kitchen,

proper communication is essential at any part of the day. You also need to know how to manage the immense pressure that is put upon you in the work place, as many peoples’ fuses can be quite short.

Wages

In Australia it is customary to pay chefs on a weekly basis, not hourly. It is a fixed salary so you must negotiate it knowing that you will be working long days, from dawn to late at night. A typical days work will be for 12 to 14 hours without a break for up to 5 days a week. The wages you will see on job offers are yearly, they will be anywhere between 60k and 110k AUD depending on your previous work history and qualifications; the restaurants’ location will be a determining factor as well.

You must realise that it is a passion as much as a job.

To work as a chef, you need to have a strong spirit, accept your working conditions, and being passionate. The only driving force behind it all is ambition. A tenacious, absolute and rock-like ambition.

Our daily routine at Muse Restaurant

However, being a Chef at Muse Restaurant is like having a family at work. People who live the same things as you. Colleagues have become friends, then brothers. “For better and for worse!” as they say. When someone is feeling under, the rest of us feel it too. When someone starts to sing, we all hum along. Here we are all supportive of one another, we are bound together.

On our days off we all

go camping together, we organise poker tournaments where even the girls can win big (we look forward to poker nights, as it’s the only time we can flush our boss!!!). We also enjoy dining in fine establishments, and having a nice cool pint down the pub.

Lastly, at Muse, we are blessed with a boss and head chef who are constantly concerned about our well-being. Every day we receive their wholehearted support and comfort.

It’s more than just a job, it’s a passion, and a shared life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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