Student masterchefs prepare three-course meal for Catholic Club diners

Teenagers traded in workbooks and backpacks for whisks and aprons at Campbelltown Catholic Club this week.

The 30 John Therry Catholic High School year 12 students served a three-course dinner to a packed dining room of parents, teachers and staff at the venue - and they got rave reviews.

The task was very different to the job usually given to work experience students in kitchens - making sandwiches.

But Catholic Club staff say they want to provide real pathways for aspiring chefs.

"Usually our students attend their work placement on their own, which is a daunting prospect for many young people," said Angela Cascarino, the school's VET [vocational education and training] coordinator.

"But this way, hospitality students can work alongside their peers, ask questions of world-class chefs and actually work effectively at their own rate in a realistic setting."

The dinner, held in the Fitzroy Room on Tuesday night, was the climax of the hospitality students completing 20 hours placement in the club kitchens, plus the preparation of the event itself.

They worked with master chef Peter Sheppard, whose culinary team is overseeing a food revolution at the club - from Kyubi to Foodie School (teaching fun and easy food recipes to local kids).

Mr Sheppard said the initiative worked so well that he hoped to expand the program and get other clubs such as those in the Wests Group involved, perhaps in a competitive setting.

"[Catholic Club chief executive] Michael Lavorato has been leading a push to try to create real work experience in the club, so we decided to get the John Therry students to put on a proper three-course dinner," Mr Sheppard said.

"We take them out of the comfort zone of their own school kitchen.

"We need to be exposing them, and educating them about what they're really looking at getting themselves into so they can make a more informed decision."

Ms Cascarino called the club's initiative one of the most exciting and supportive programs she had seen, catering to a diverse range of students.

"Peter Sheppard and the Catholic Club have provided our students with so much more than just a token visit or observation session," she said.

"Culinary skills, food service and customer quality are all brought into the program.

"The change in the confidence of our students has been immediate - they are able to connect their classroom learning to a realistic industry setting.

"I would challenge all clubs to work alongside the schools in such a manner.

"The chance to educate an industry is worth the energy, time, staff and resources as the investment into the future generations of Macarthur is a practical, equitable and invaluable way to teach our children, far beyond any financial investment."

Here's what the children served on the night:


Beef and mushroom tortellini, mixed vegetables and tarragon broth; or pumpkin, spinach and fetta quiche with sweet potato and beetroot chips.


Chicken Wellington, celeriac puree and wilted spinach; or slow-cooked lamb shank, crushed peas and potato puree.


Lemon tart, scorched meringue, chocolate sorbet, chocolate tuile and black current coulis; or date cake, candied pistachios, citrus zest and vanilla cream anglaise.