ONCE again we have had word of a former local student going on to make big achievements, with Kirra Parsons winning the recent School-Based Apprentice of the Year at the 2012 Illawarra Training Awards.
Kirra, formerly of St Joseph’s Primary School, is the daughter of Tony and Kim Parsons who moved from Bombala to the coast in recent years, and the granddaughter of local couple, Ian and Janet Niven.
The budding chef’s achievement has been covered in both the Merimbula News Weekly and the Bega District News, and Kirra even mentioned her hometown of Bombala as the place her first interest in food blossomed.
Below we are very happy to share Kirra’s winning story from the July 4 Merimbula News Weekly –
Vicolo restaurant’s Kirra Parsons won the School-Based Apprentice of the Year at the 2012 Illawarra Training Awards held at the Villa D’Oro in Wollongong on Friday.
The 17-year-old apprentice at the Merimbula restaurant now takes on the best in the state in what is becoming a bit of a Lumen Christi Catholic College tradition. Former student Luke Masliah ranked in the top three School-Based Apprentices in NSW last year.
For Kirra, going to Wollongong for the presentation and having her name called out ahead of three other finalists was something she’ll always remember.
“I was shocked – it was really surprised but very honoured and happy,” she said. “It was the best night.”
She also picked up an excellence award during the night thanks to the hard work she’s put in at Bega TAFE where she studies one day a week, spending the rest of the week at school and then working two nights at Vicolo.
“At the start I was struggling a little bit with the work load, but now everything is flowing along perfectly,” she said. “I’m working through the school holidays at the moment.”
But rather than bemoan a working life instead of enjoying the school holidays with friends, she says she’s happy to be learning.
“Usually the apprenticeship goes for three years, but I’m doing the first two years in Year 11 and 12 so it’ll be four years in total, but that’s good because I get an extra year of knowledge,” she said, adding that working with chef Felice at Vicolo has gone a long way to expanding her understanding of food.
“I’ve been working at Vicolo since March and Felice has been teaching me a lot of different techniques and introduces me to new foods – things that I didn’t know go together,” she said.
Kirra already had a sound knowledge of some foods, learning from her parents who had a farm and fresh food café in her home town Bombala.
“With the farm we had fresh sausages, fresh salads, fresh fruit. That had a major impact on how I look at food. Fresh produce from the garden tastes so much better – you get a lot more flavour in your dishes,” she said.
But while fresh food is the cornerstone of Kirra’s cooking sensibilities, she admits to having a bit of a sweet tooth.
“When I finish my apprenticeship I’d like to go to Sydney to do a sugar and chocolate course,” she said.
“I love desserts! I could always skip entrée and main and go straight to dessert!”
Food science is another facet that motivates the teenager and she said travelling to France and then England to expand her experience are on her to-do list.
“My absolute dream is to go to the UK and work with Heston Blumenthal (a famous chef known for his experiments in the kitchen),” she said.
“But ultimately I’d love to have a vintage type restaurant with a lot of nice food including food from the past – homey type foods using fresh produce that I’d grow myself.”
Kirra thanks both her employer at Vicolo and Bega TAFE Tourism and Hospitality head teacher, Deirdre Jory.