Juan was keen to work as a chef, inspired by his Aunty, also a chef. At 19, he had completed his HSC as well as a Hospitality II course a few years ago, but had not been able to find a job.
Lou, a local restaurant owner in Kempsey, had always wanted to help the local Aboriginal community by training and employing an Indigenous chef, but had not been able to find anyone. Seeing the difference Real Futures have made to the community in Kempsey, he trusted them when they suggested giving Juan a trial as an apprentice.
Katie from Real Futures worked with Juan to prepare him for his apprenticeship, including being very frank with him about the realities of a high-pressure kitchen environment. She even got him to watch some episodes from a Gordon Ramsay series to make sure he was honestly up for the challenge.
Juan watched the show and rang the next day to say, “I can do this.”
Using government funding support, Katie helped Juan with a uniform and personal protective equipment (PPE). And on the day of his trial, she picked him up from his home, took him to Lou’s restaurant, and dropped him home afterward.
The trial was successful and Juan began an apprenticeship with Lou in early May 2021 He is very dedicated and walks or catches a bus to work; rain or shine, he is never late. He is delighted with the apprenticeship and after every shift, he shakes Lou’s hand and thanks him for the opportunity.
For his part, Lou is absolutely astounded by Juan’s commitment: “He’s the best I’ve ever had; he’s a little ripper,” he says.
Juan has been on night shifts and loves that as well.
Due to Juan’s commitment, he is set to complete his apprenticeship in two years, instead of the usual four years.
The community has also benefited, with Juan’s girlfriend inspired to get a traineeship in childcare. Katie says four or five of Juan’s friends have also turned up to the Kempsey office looking for work or apprenticeships as well.