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AOF scholarship gives grad inspiration in Hong Kong

Working as a chef in Hong Kong sparked Caelan O’Rourke’s drive and passion to be the best chef he could be.

Since completing his Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at William Angliss Institute and apprenticeship at Shadowfax winery, Caelan O’Rourke has already been on quite a journey in his short career as a chef.

Caelan won the Australian Overseas Foundation (AOF)  scholarship two years ago and used the opportunity to work in Hong Kong at modern, Japanese family-style restaurant Yardbird.

The restaurant is a neighbourhood restaurant that specialises in yakitori dishes of grilled skewered chicken.

“It was a cool learning curve as I’d never worked with Japanese ingredients before. In my short culinary career, working at this restaurant really drove me to chase the dream,” Caelan said.

Working with such an ambitious and highly skilled team ignited his own passion and drive to become a better chef.

“I was fortunate to be able to work one-on-one with Matt Abergel as his skills as a chef are unbelievable. I learnt so many things like breaking down a chicken in order to make various skewers to working with a lot of Japanese ingredients and understanding how to use them correctly.”

While new experiences can sometimes be challenging, learning new ways of doing things, Caelan said that tackling new responsibilities and tasks that you never imagined yourself doing was a great way to grow on your career journey.

“It’s been extremely hard in many ways but I am glad for the opportunity. Yardbird has been amazing,” he said.