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How I became a chef by putting my goals into practice

2 July 2020

Photo of Kate Jansen

An early passion for food and cooking led Kate Jansen to train as a chef.


Becoming a head chef was a huge achievement for me, but I still have so much more to learn. I am loving work right now and enjoying the challenge of a new kitchen.

Kate knew early in life that she had a passion for food and cooking, which led her to completing a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery.

In 2019 Kate was the Apprentice of the Year in South Australia and represented her state at the 2019 Australian Training Awards. The day after she completed her apprenticeship, Kate took up a Head Chef role and firmly established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the hospitality industry.

Deciding to take the next step in her career, she started working at The Lane Vineyard as a chef.

We caught up with Kate to see how life has changed since the Australian Training Awards.

How is the new role?

My role at The Lane Vineyard has given me a new set of skills and knowledge of different styles of food, local produce and wine pairing. Even though I have moved from head chef to chef, having new goals to work towards is advantageous to my career.

How did you start as a chef?

If it wasn’t for the experience of VET when I first started in high school I may not be where I am today. The encouragement and support of my VET teachers inspired me to become a chef. From that point onwards I was really motivated to work hard. Through this hard work, I became a head chef and won Apprentice of the Year in South Australia. My entire VET experience has given me extra confidence when moving to a new kitchen and learning new skills.

If it wasn’t for the experience of VET when I first started in high school I may not be where I am today.

Has COVID-19 impacted the way you work?

COVID-19 hit the hospitality industry in a big way. I wasn’t able to continue working for a period, which was disappointing as I had only just started. However, the way the hospitality industry came together to support each other and the front line workers was really inspiring.

I used this time to research and study cookbooks. I had the opportunity to volunteer providing lunches to workers, volunteers and homeless men at a day centre in Adelaide. This was a great chance for me to use my hospitality skills to help people in need. It was definitely a different style of cooking, but it meant I was able to use my love of cooking hearty meals to provide for those who needed it the most.

I was able to use my love of cooking hearty meals to provide for those who needed it the most.

When work resumed, we had to think about how to change our service to follow the COVID-19 guidelines. As a venue we were able to adapt to the restrictions and health advice while still providing a fine dining experience. Our menu was reduced and we now serve small plates instead of larger meals. This means we are able to service more guests with lower contact times. We are doing our best to let people experience The Lane and feel “normal” again.

What are your career plans?

One day I would love to be able to own and run my own business. I would like to undertake a Diploma of Business, Bachelor of Business or Diploma of Hospitality. I would also like to continue with commercial cookery and complete my Certificate IV. There are so many different avenues to opening your own business, and VET is a great option.

What would you recommend to future chefs?

Try to get some work experience and learn about the industry. I started by studying a VET course at school which helped me to make an informed decision about my future. Being a chef isn’t a job for everyone but if you love it and are willing to give it your all then I highly recommend it. You can gain a lot of knowledge and a feel for the kitchen by studying through VET. There are courses for beginners, so even if you aren’t in the industry yet, you can still start your career journey.

To find VET courses visit myskills.gov.au.

To read more about VET pathways visit the Australian VET Alumni website.