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The Chef: Colin’s Story

I’m Colin Wilson, I’m a qualified chef. I work at Chateau Yering in the Yarra Valley.

I started off as a fitter and turner and did quite a few different things in engineering. I always tried to do things that I really enjoyed. It makes life a lot easier if you wake up in the morning and want to go to work and do something that you enjoy. Eventually that led me to food and, yeah, I’ve always had a love for food and decided to take the plunge and do an apprenticeship.

I think, first of all, doing it as a mature age student, I have the background knowledge and the life experience to know when to focus and, yeah, get the most out of everything. You get the hands-on experience as well as the theory side of it when you go to school each week. I love passing on the knowledge that I’ve gained to new people in the industry and, yeah, just try to mentor other apprentices.

Taking on an apprentice should be looked at as an investment for the company. You get to train them in the specific ways that you need. Over the period of time, you end up with a highly skilled person in your workplace that’s doing exactly what you need them to be doing.

Having good mentors while I was doing the apprenticeship and while I was learning really, really added to the whole learning experience.

Winning the 2011 Australian Apprentice of the Year Award was a pretty humbling experience knowing that how many people applied and all the great apprentices out there. It’s an amazing achievement. It’s something I never expected to get when I started my apprenticeship.

If you’re thinking of doing an apprenticeship and you think you’ll enjoy it, I’d say go for it.


A qualified fitter and turner, Colin Wilson worked in various jobs and industries for twenty years before deciding to pursue his passion for food and cooking. In 2008 with the support of his wife and family, he left his well-paying job to undertake a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery.

Now a fully qualified Chef after completing his Australian Apprenticeship, Colin is passionate about encouraging others to follow in his footsteps.

‘Although it was a big decision to change careers, I believe you should follow a career path that involves something you are passionate about. I really believe that passion and planning were the keys to getting me through the last few years successfully,’ Colin said.

Determined to succeed, Colin used his maturity to his benefit while completing his Australian Apprenticeship.

‘I used my life experience to help me find the best way to get where I wanted to be. This helped me fast track my career by enabling me to gain competency in my studies as well as in the workplace.’

Colin now runs Chateau Yering’s award winning Sweetwater Café in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. This has inspired him to pursue management studies which has awakened a passion for teaching.

‘Once I complete my Certificate III in Training and Assessment I hope to be able to teach commercial cookery part time. I also plan to own and run a small restaurant and I’m constantly planning and refining my ideas for that.’

Reinvent Your Career would like to thank the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education where this article first appeared.

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