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Aspiring chef to learn from the best

There are some who look at the disadvantaged and shrug their shoulders. Then there are those who see the potential hidden behind the anger and distrust and show them a different world, a world that they embrace and in which they can excel.

Such is the story of 15 year old Melati Boombi, a student in the YES (Youth Engagement Scheme) run by Kununurra District High School and Save the Children, whose efforts and support are taking her all the way to Parliament House.

Five days a week, a group of young, disengaged youth, were firstly involved with Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) classes and also in Hospitality, the latter so that eventually they could get a qualification through GATE (Gaining Access and Training in Education).

LLN teacher Julia Perkins saw Melati’s potential and she did not let her down. While all four girls were eventually paid for, three students in Years 11 and 12, it was Melati in Year 10, who was almost excluded from the scheme. Julia was not to be put off and, with the support of Save the Children and Kununurra District High, was able to raise the funding for Melati to join the course along with the others.

Enter Darragh Cribbin, a casual lecturer in hospitality from North Regional TAFE’s Kununurra Campus. Darragh teaches by demonstration, project work and hands-on application of his trade, which requires good observation skills from students remembering the order of the way things are done and also the techniques used to do them.

The YES students had their own classroom and Melati punctually attended every day. She enthusiastically took part in preparations for one of the girl’s birthdays, actively contributing to the catering for the event, while also consistently working at improving her LLN skills so she could learn more about the hospitality field she was now embracing.

In Term 2 chefs came up from Perth for the Kimberley Moon Festival and students were able to see them using bush tucker herbs and spices in their gourmet dishes. It was one of these world-renowned chefs – Paul Iskov - who, in conversation with Julie and Darragh, invited Melati to take part in the Kartagup Djinda Ngardak masterclasses with an exclusive group of talented potential indigenous chefs.

These young people will cook and learn from such well-known gourmet chefs as Iskov (aka Yoda), Clayton Donavan, David Gilmour, Steven Clarke, Rebecca Sullivan, Lorrain Gilmour, Shirley Edward, Stuart Laws  - many of whom have appeared on television’s MasterChef as judges – culminating in the highlight of the experience with the group preparing a meal for Parliament House.

Being picked to travel to Perth for this experience is the highlight of Melati’s young life and with the encouragement and success she has achieved, she now wants to do this for the rest of her life

“The group that Melati came into the course with came with no respect and after only eight sessions, given this chance,  they left with respect both for the lecturers/teachers and themselves,” said Julia Perkins.

Hospitality lecturer Darragh was firmly behind Melati and her future.

“Melati earned her place in this Master Class by the effort she put into the programme, her 100% attendance, her effort and drive. She is a grounded young woman with a fantastic ability. She could go a long way.”

Page last updated November 20, 2017