On his first day back in the office after a lightning beachside holiday, the Prime Minister visited popular business lunch spot Fratelli Fresh on Sydney’s Bridge Street to attend the graduation of the first six alumni of the National Indigenous Culinary Institute.
On Monday afternoon, Tony Abbott met all six graduate chefs, who have spent the past three years training under the tutelage of high-profile chefs such as Guillaume Brahimi, Neil Perry and Matt Moran.
Mr Abbott said it was “so encouraging is to see fine young indigenous people having a go – making the most of your lives.
“All of us are meant for something. The challenge is to find what that is and then to grasp it with both hands,” the Prime Minister said.
The Institute ensures its graduates move into roles as qualified chefs at prestigious Sydney kitchens Fratelli Fresh, guillaume, Gowings Bar & Grill, Catalina, Icebergs Dining Room, Aria and Rockpool Bar & Grill (aka Global HQ).
OFF TO LONDON
The class’s top performers are being sent to work in London for the Fat Duck’s Heston Blumenthal and The Ledbury’s Brett Graham, and for Thomas Keller in New York and California.
“We guarantee them employment which is an easy guarantee to give, because when they’ve done this training they are just so employable”, said Fratelli Fresh principal Barry McDonald.
Graduate Malarie Webster was beaming at the ceremony alongside the Prime Minister.
She came from a profoundly disadvantaged background and trained in Mr McDonald’s CBD restaurants Fratelli Fresh and Cafe Nice.
“I love cooking and I want to do it for the rest of my life.”
The institute and its training program were the brainchildren of Mr McDonald, private equity legend Bill Wavish and former Accor chairman David Baffsky.
There are 42 apprentices in the pipeline who will graduate in 2016 and 2017, and the institute’s next goal is to expand the program to other Australian capitals.
As prime minister, Mr Abbott has actively supported private-sector driven indigenous employment schemes. When first told about the institute’s work, he was quick to offer federal support.
Ms Webster could’ve ended up at a Brahimi or Perry establishment, but has accepted a permanent gig at the Fratelli Parlamento opposite the bear pit on Macquarie Street. She prefers the fun of McDonald’s Fratelli empire. “I think he’s my favourite,” she admits.