Wilhelm named ‘Apprentice of the Year’

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Kitchen rules: Boathouse apprentice Wilhelm Gabut with the restaurant’s executive chef Colin Barker.

An apprenticeship at one of Sydney’s best seafood restaurants has fuelled Wilhelm Gabut’s dream to become an executive chef.

The Year 12 student at LaSalle Catholic College Bankstown’s Saint Yon Trade Training Centre has worked at Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay, Glebe for the past year, shucking oysters and plating meals on Friday nights and Sundays. These are the restaurant’s busiest times.

“I really love it,” he said.

“It’s my first ever job and I feel really grateful to be there working with really good people. The chefs working at Boathouse want to bring the best out of me and I think that environment really helps me a lot.”

Wilhelm, 17, was named School Based Apprentice of the Year in the North & Central Region, NSW State Training Awards at a ceremony at Ryde TAFE on June 18. He said he was learning many different skills at Boathouse including how to plate dishes, portion fish, run service, sharpen knives, cut an eschallot or onion properly and stay organised.

He plans to have a long career in the hospitality industry, eventually travelling to London, Paris and other parts of the world as an executive chef.

“I really love food and always wanted to have a career where I make people happy and I think being a chef allows me to do that through food,” he said. “I really love the vibe that you get working in the kitchen.

“When I’m at the Saint Yon Trade Training Centre and doing my cookery course most of the time it is the fundamentals – the health and safety, protocols, or what boards to use,” he said.

“When I’m working at the restaurant it’s the things I’ve learnt at school put into action with pressure and in a professional sense. I think the pressure of working in the kitchen brings it to a new level.

“It makes it more fun and makes it more exciting. The pressure brings energy out of you as well and I think you have a strong example to look at when you’re working with professional chefs.”

LaSalle’s Saint Yon Trade Training Centre gives senior secondary students a career head start through  trade-based courses as a part of their HSC, or the option of starting an early apprenticeship through its ‘Industry Based Learning’ HSC pathway, as Wilhelm has done.

He will graduate from LaSalle in September and hopes to finish the final year of his apprenticeship at Boathouse before growing his skills at other prestigious restaurants including Sepia and Quay.

“Those two are my goals,” he said. “I’ve heard from some of the chefs that when you’re a young chef you shouldn’t stick to one place, it’s a good career move to keep moving on to different restaurants and learning new things.

“I still have so much to learn at the Boathouse. There are so many different fishes that we cook and prepare that I don’t think any other restaurant does, and so many different techniques that we do.”

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