Illawarra students face their ultimate pressure test


Celebrity Chef Ben Willis

If you are interested in attending this memorable event and tasting the delights of local produce prepared by our local students, bookings can be made with Destiny’s Restaurant on 4421 9958 or by emailing

In a collaborative effort, the TAFE NSW Illawarra Nowra Cookery, Hospitality and Events will face their ultimate pressure test at the 14th Annual Celebrity Chef Scholarship Degustation dinner on Tuesday 15 November.

Aligning their recently learned skills with Owner and Hatted Chef, Ben Willis of Aubergine, they will deliver a culinary delight of eight courses and matching wines, to be held at TAFE NSW Illawarra Nowra’s, Destiny’s Restaurant.

Our Celebrity Chef will guide the students through the entire gastronomic event; working with first year apprentices on Monday in preparation for the Tuesday degustation dinner to be executed by second year apprentices.

Ben is motivated daily to produce a great dining experience for his customers; evolving his menu with fresh ideas and creativity.

“We are not looking to tinker with something for months on end to try and perfect it. I like things a little more off the cuff,” says Ben.

“To define our food, it’s of the moment. We like the dish to change. The product changes each day and so do our dishes.”

Receiving many accolades, Ben’s restaurant Aubergine, has been awarded Two Chef Hats in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards for five consecutive years.

Recently the restaurant listed in John Lethlean’s Hot 50 Restaurants for 2016 and Gourmet Traveller’s top 100 restaurants.

In 2014 Ben opened a new eatery, Temporada. It instantly gained awards for its simplicity on the same philosophy as Aubergine.

Temporada was awarded One Chef Hat in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards and the Canberra Times ‘Restaurant of the Year’.

Ben regularly talks with the farmers, growers, producers and artisans about the best seasonal produce, and infuses this into his cuisine.

“At the moment it’s asparagus.” says Ben.

TAFE NSW Illawarra’s Institute Director Belinda Mackinnon said: “Running successfully for 14 years, the event offers regional students a rare chance to work with some of Australia’s best chefs.

“They also have the opportunity to obtain scholarships for their professional development in the Tourism and Hospitality industry.”

Ben Willis is a TAFE trained graduate, who believes it’s important to find something that interests you.

“My memories of TAFE are good. What’s going on in Nowra is way more interesting,” says Ben.

“The classics are great foundations, but I think it needs balancing with a modern touch.”

The students are so excited. They are looking forward to working alongside such a high calibre Chef.

With the prospect of winning a scholarship, two students will be awarded the chance to work in a top hatted restaurant in Australia.

Brent Strong, 2015 scholarship winner says, “It is an amazing opportunity.”

“You are provided with a weeks’ all expenses paid scholarship and the ultimate experience learning from the best.

“I can’t believe the opportunities that have been offered to me from studying with TAFE.”

Your invitation to the TAFE NSW Illawarra 14th Annual Celebrity Chef Scholarship Degustation

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.