Hamish George, Gemma McManus, Chef Kees van der Laan
On Friday 24th May, we at Didasko were lucky enough to attend the Victorian Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge hosted at St John’s Regional College.
While we were looking forward to seeing the Hospitality and Cookery students compete using the skills they have developed, we did not anticipate the pleasure of meeting Chef Kees.
Chef Kees van der Laan is the Hospitality and Food Technology Leader at St John’s Regional College. Upon meeting him, it was clear that Kees was extremely passionate about his area of expertise and ensuring the best for his students.
This was evidenced by the enthusiasm in which Kees showed us around the kitchen, restaurant, Patisserie/Bakery kitchen and future cafe locations.
Visiting St John’s Regional College, we were particularly impressed with the Graduates’ Restaurant. Due to his years working as a chef, Kees believes that hands-on experience is an important part of learning. The Graduates’ restaurant, on the school’s campus, is where Year 11 and 12 Hospitality and Kitchen Operations students gain real-world experience. These students are guided by St John’s hospitality team, Chef Kees, Chef Karla and the Restaurant Manager Ms Sally Taylor. This real-world experience is used in conjunction with the theory found in Didasko’s online content to create a blended learning experience.
As a result of this hands-on experience and St John’s connection with the local community, graduates are highly sought after for traineeships and jobs.