Illawarra Cookery Apprentice Wins South Coast Young Achiever of the Year


Brent Strong Young Achiever of the Year accepting his award

Local TAFE NSW Illawarra Commercial Cookery graduate, Brent Strong has won the Young Achiever in Tourism at the 20th Annual South Coast Tourism Awards.

The Awards recognise the best tourism operators and their outstanding achievements over the past 12 months.

At the age of 24 and with a young family, Brent courageously changed careers from the banking financial sector to study as a chef – a lifelong passion and dream.

Brent’s determination to restart and foster a career as a young chef of the highest standing is paying off.

“Being recognised for my commitment and passion, is so rewarding. You know all the hard yards are paying off,” says Brent.

“It’s a tough industry with not a lot of financial return, so it’s a great honour to win this prestigious award.

“It’s sensational. The awards I have won this year validates my decision to follow my dreams.

“When you find something you love, it doesn’t feel like you work a day in your life.”

Belinda Mackinnon TAFE NSW Illawarra’s Institute Director is proud of Brent’s outstanding year filled with achievements.

“You are at the beginning of your career and achieving an incredible amount of recognition. This is a testament to your hard work and dedication,” says Belinda.

Brent is currently completing his apprenticeship under the guidance of Nick Gardner of Silos Estate in Berry, former chef of renowned restaurants The French Laundry, Tetsuya’s and Quay.

Nick Gardner says, “Brent confidently accepts new tasks and completes them beyond the expectations of his higher ranked team members.

“He is consistently hard working, extremely passionate and professional. He will be a good ambassador for the industry, mentor and excellent trainer for upcoming chefs.”

With multiple regional and state awards in 2016, Brent’s future is certainly very promising.

Brent was the 2016 recipient of the of the prestigious Oliver C Shaul scholarship. He will undertake a three month work placement at restaurant Relae in Copenhagen, Denmark, voted No 40 in the world’s top restaurants.

TAFE NSW Illawarra Nowra’s Commercial Cookery teacher, Greg King says: “I am extremely proud of Brent and his achievements.”

“I am very confident that no matter where Brent ends up on the culinary map of this world he will maintain strong ties with the Shoalhaven. He will be a truly amazing ambassador for our region.”

The local community is invited to learn more about the courses on offer in 2017 at TAFE NSW Illawarra’s Choices Day on Saturday 3 December, 9am to 1pm.