How Dom turned his love of food and family into a full-time career

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“People want to spend time with family and people who they love… And food is a great way to share that experience.”

For some it takes a while to figure out what they want to do for a living, but for 20-year-old Dom Cole, it didn’t take long to land on his passion for food. And now Dom’s approaching the finish line of his 3-year apprenticeship in Commercial Cookery at one of Perth (Boorloo)’s most prestigious hospitality hubs, the State Buildings.

School and hitting the books were a bit of a maze for Dom, who has dyslexia. Plus, he loves being active so the idea of a career sitting behind a desk was really not an option for him. “I always knew I was never going to have an office job or anything like that,” Dom tells us one summer day between a quick jog around Elizabeth Quay and starting work at Petition in the heart of Perth’s CBD.

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Dom’s one of many young Western Australians working in our tourism and hospitality industry, fuelling his passion for great food while living an active and fulfilling life surrounded by friends and family: “It’s just great to be around people who are passionate about food and working for the common good.”

Learn more about Dom’s story below, and head to our Dream Careers Hub to explore opportunities for your own rewarding career, one filled with adventure, meaning and connection.

Table of contents:

How’d you get into this career?

“I wanted to be active and use my hands at work. So a career as a chef stood out, plus food has always been an important part of my life.”

Dom wasted no time in gaining work experience and skills in the kitchen to kick start his career as a budding young chef: “I started part time work when I was 14/15, and that included jobs as a fishmonger, filleting fish, seeing what different foods come from the ocean…

“I loved being able to work with crayfish and lots of other animals and being able to get hands-on with produce,” he reminisces. “I think it’s important as a chef in seeing the journey from the start to the finish, as you develop respect for the produce.”

This was followed by a stint with a renowned inner-city butcher before he began working part-time at State Buildings and studying a Certificate II in Hospitality whilst finishing high school (“the schedule at school adjusted itself to the course I was in”), which all led to the course he’s doing now.

“I’ve almost finished my Certificate III in Commercial Cookery, which is more cooking and chef oriented. I work four or five days a week in the kitchen, and then go to TAFE one day a week, it’s really good.”

CAREER STEPPING STONES
1.

Loved cooking for family and friends

2.

Gained work experience in a butcher

3.

Completed Year 12 and Cert. II in Hospitality

4.

Started Cert. III in Commercial Cookery

5.

Now 3rd Year Apprentice Chef at Petition

What’s a typical day look like for you?

Family time and physical activity are two things Dom prioritises, and working in hospitality affords him ample opportunity to enjoy both. After a 6am gym session (“the adrenalin rush gives you the energy to continue your day”), it’s a morning spent enjoying breakfast followed by a bit of study: “I like to invest in cookbooks because it’s just a way to learn that’s been around for so long for chefs. I’ll just pull out one of my cookbooks, read it, and then write things down that come to mind.”

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Dom’s shifts don’t usually start til around 1 or 2pm, so after a morning spent poring over cookbooks and hanging out with the fam, it’s onwards to work for an afternoon of prep followed by one of the many aspects of working at Petition Dom really loves…

“[The crew] all sit down and have something to eat,” he tells us. “There’s always one person rostered on to do a staff meal, which is good as it encourages everyone to sit down and talk to each other. Because you work so often with these people, and probably spend more time at work than you do at home, it’s important to be close to each other. It’s good to feel like a family.”

From there it’s all systems go once service hits at 5pm, where Dom gets rotated around to learn different sections of the kitchen, followed by cleaning and closing it all down after 10pm.

A busy day indeed, but for Dom it’s also just the beginning of where he wants to take his career, as he explains: “I want to move up and continue to grow with the company and continue learning as much as I can. There’s a lot that I want to learn in terms of running the restaurant, but also ordering, rosters and plenty of other stuff.”

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Who are some of the people you get to work with?

Apart from his kitchen co-workers, Dom’s job in the hospitality industry has seen him score incredible opportunities to work with world-class chefs, both at home and abroad, including a trip to the Formula One in Singapore.

“I got the opportunity to go and work with Chef Kim for Formula One – you cook for customers who pay a premium and it was just a great experience… There’s usually about 40, 50 of us all from all over the world cooking together. There are people from the Maldives, Bali, and all over London.”

Meanwhile back home in Perth, the State Buildings regularly hosts pop-up restaurants featuring international and national chefs, even chefs from 3-star Michelin restaurants, offering invaluable experience for someone just getting started like Dom.

“You speak to them and you see how passionate they are. I love working with people who love their job, who put in the work. And when you’re surrounded by people who are like that, it motivates you. That’s why I like being in the industry, it reminds you every day why you’re doing it in the first place.”

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Best parts of the job?

It might sound a little crazy, but outside of getting to travel and work alongside brilliant chefs from around the world, Dom gets a real kick out of Petition’s open plan layout, telling us it provides him with invaluable insight into the end game: customer enjoyment and satisfaction.

“I think Petition is one of the best venues because it’s an open kitchen, like it’s completely open. So you can actually see people eating your food. Then as they walk out, they have to come by the kitchen, so you get to hear what they have to say and it’s great when they thank you for the meal.”

Dom’s drive to be the best he can be is nurtured in an environment where feedback is encouraged and viewed as an opportunity to grow: “I like to hear customer feedback… I’m a perfectionist, so I like everything to be the best it can be,” he says with a knowing smile.

“It’s important to hear directly from the customers on how things can be better, then you can build an experience that’s tailored to them, but also interesting for you.”

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What’s one piece of advice for someone interested in getting into hospitality?

For Dom it’s a pretty simple equation: be passionate, be willing to work, and you’ve already got your foot in the door. “You just have to prove to them that you want it. If you’re willing to work hard and put in the hours, and if you really love what you’re doing, anyone will recognise that,” he tells us with a sense of pride.

“For me it was about working hard and surrounding myself with really, really talented individuals who are also very passionate people and will help you grow and mentor you…

“You work with so many different people from all over, which means you get to pick little bits from everyone on how to do better and learn more. And that’s really important for me.”

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Keen to start your adventure? Head to westernaustralia.jobs/dreamcareer to explore job opportunities, career inspiration, benefits, pathways, perks, possibilities and much more.