KILMORE chef and mother Jaclin Parkinson will represent Melbourne Polytechnic at the Victorian TAFE Patisserie Challenge on July 8, after deciding to head back to school to take her cake and dessert making skills to the next level.
With more than 30 years of hospitality experience, Ms Parkinson has been a standout student since enrolling into the Certificate IV in Patisserie course, earning herself the chance to represent her education facility.
“All TAFEs that offer patisserie courses have put forward a team of two, and we must bake to meet supplied criteria in a certain time frame. We are making chocolate eclairs, tarts and gateaux,” Ms Parkinson said.
“I’m really looking forward to it and am honoured to be recognised in this way by my teachers.
“I get time to practice at school and with the other student I’ve been teamed up with. Our teachers are giving us their time to help guide us, and hopefully we’ll take the prize home.”
Ms Parkinson has always enjoyed working in the hospitality industry and is grateful for the opportunity to gain more skills in baking and patisserie.
“I’ve always been in the hospitality industry, working in cafes, restaurants and pubs. I love working with people and working with food,” she said.
“Having been a cake decorator all my life, I wanted to advance my knowledge on a more professional level, that’s why I looked into courses at Melbourne Polytechnic.
“I had come to a point in my life where I could take time off work, and concentrate on studying full time.”
Ms Parkinson secured a place in the course with plans to start the course in 2020. With the impact of COVID-19 affecting her practical classes, Ms Parkinson’s studies were delayed but have continued throughout 2021.
During COVID-19, Ms Parkinson said she often leaned on other students to get through the challenging time.
“I have made some great friends both international and local. The support I received from teachers and fellow students through COVID was amazing. If it wasn’t for this support a lot of us may not have continued the course,” she said.
“Studying has opened a whole new area of expertise for me because I’ve been introduced to ingredients I’d never heard of, techniques that I had never tried and equipment I would normally not get to use.
“Being in a practical setting with the teachers to support you is an incredible help. You can ask a million questions and you get the answers you need. Learning in a hands-on environment compared to a course online is invaluable.”
Certificate IV in Patisserie at Melbourne Polytechnic advances students’ knowledge of desserts and allows them to fine-tune their artisan pastry skills.
“I’ve become really good friends with the teachers at Melbourne Polytechnic, they’ve been supportive of my journey. They’re very knowledgeable, and approachable,” Ms Parkinson said.
With years spent in varying hospitality roles, Ms Parkinson’s ultimate goal is to start her own cake decorating business specialising in personalised cakes, desserts and gateaux.
“COVID-19 has had a huge impact on hospitality. It’s hard to say how many businesses will survive this climate, but it gives people a better appreciation of the industry,” she said.