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Pivot in the pandemic: Sanny’s journey into a commercial kitchen

Training and skills case study

When Sanny Liu moved to Australia, she wasn’t sure where her path might lead.  

After a year of studying graphic design, she began to realise that working at a computer wasn’t going to suit her lifestyle.  

“I didn’t like sitting down all the time, I wanted to be making something using my hands,” Sanny explains.  

Sanny Liu case study

Now working as a sous chef at a Melbourne restaurant, Sanny is proud of how far she’s come since those first days as an international student.  

That journey began when she decided to pursue a passion she already knew she loved – cooking.  

“I started working at a local café and realised I was really good at it,” says Sanny. “I liked getting up in the morning and spending time in the kitchen. It never felt like work.”

Starting out as a kitchen hand, Sanny continued working at the café while she and her husband raised their young family.  

But when COVID-19 hit the industry and shifts were put on hold, Sanny knew it was her chance to look at what was next.

“I chose to get formal training because I had the time and I knew it would open doors for me to apply for more jobs,” Sanny says.  

Enrolling in the Certificate III in Commercial Cookery meant Sanny was able to receive government funding under the Free TAFE program.  

She began learning theory online before moving to practical classes once COVID restrictions were lifted.  

“By that time, I was really looking forward to the hands-on classes and learning from chefs with industry experience,” Sanny recalls.

Simulating a real-world environment, the TAFE classes were designed to mimic working in a restaurant. Sanny loved every minute and began speaking with one of her teachers about finding a job in the industry.  

Sanny Liu case study

Upon graduation, that same teacher introduced Sanny to a local restaurant that was looking to hire.  

“I started in their entrée section as a casual, then they offered me a full-time job and now I’m a chef for the pastry section,” says Sanny.  

In just one year in the pastry section, Sanny has designed her own dessert menu which is now offered to all restaurant guests.  

“I love to create something from scratch, and I feel really lucky to have been given the chance to create things on the menu,” says Sanny.  

For anyone thinking of entering the commercial cooking industry, Sanny says there’s plenty of space for newcomers.  

“There are a lot of senior chefs looking after all the young chefs and willing to provide opportunities,” says Sanny.  

While there’s still lots to learn, Sanny can say with certainty that she loves her job.