About Name SurnameGraham Brown describes his career so far as a “dog’s leg”. He has had the one career but moved around in it, starting as an apprentice chef and now working at Didasko developing innovative new training resources for the hospitality industry and educating trainers. As an underachiever in school in Brisbane he left school at 15-years-old – as soon as he could – and took on an apprenticeship with the Federal Group working at Lennon’s Hotel in Brisbane. For the first time he experienced praise and success training to be a chef.
With limited training available in Brisbane he asked to be transferred to Melbourne where he could attend William Angliss to complete his apprenticeship. He moved to Melbourne at 16-years-old and joined a group of students in their second year of apprenticeship. He worked at the Old Menzies and finished his apprenticeship at the Cockpit Restaurant at Tullamarine Airport.
He remembers the lay-out of William Angliss and the two air raid shelters in the courtyard. He also remembers the kitchens and the old dining rooms and the area at the back of the kitchen where meat was sometimes hung when a recipe called for “hung meat”. He says it was a bit like an old boarding school. At Angliss he was encouraged to volunteer at special events such as the Mayor’s Ball and soon found himself loving buffet and display work. He worked hard to develop this newly-found skill and was encouraged by his teachers at William Angliss.
He completed his 6-year apprenticeship and worked at display and buffets gradually gravitating to more and more front of house work and from there, into hotel management.
In 1980 he was asked to join William Angliss as a teacher and he completed his teacher training as well as formal hotel management training whilst teaching classes. Graham organised Theme Nights, which were the highlight of the Catering Management Program he ran and were a feature of the Institute over the 9 years. Graham recalls, “The themes were big … we had zero budget but you could do the best things when you had no money. We would make things happen that were unbelievable”. (Graham donated his albums of photographs to the archive so many pictures of these themed nights are there).
His students gave him a rousing farewell at his last Theme Night and sang To Sir With Love on the stage. Graham had been asked to join the staff as Head of Front of House training at Dandenong TAFE and eventually took over as Head of School.
One of the highlights of his career was writing The Waiter’s Handbook with Karon Hepner. For someone who had such a hard time at school it was quite an achievement to be a published author and not only that … “The Waiter’s Handbook is a published all over the world and has been translated into other languages and is used as standard operating procedures in hotels all over the world.”
Graham says: “I have had one career but I have had the job opportunities of a lifetime! I have been pretty happy with that but would never have thought in those days at William Angliss as a 16-year-old that all of that was ahead of me!”
Summary of the InterviewInterviewer: Jill Adams
Interviewee: Graham Brown
Date: 20 August 2011
Recording Format: MP3
||Apprenticeship Experience & Early Memories of WAI
||Lennons; Federal Group; Queensland; Melbourne; William Angliss Institute (WAI); Federal Hotel; Menzies Hotel; Cockpit
Restaurant; Tullamarine; Hotel management; Brisbane; air raid shelters; courtyard; post world war; 1960s; butcher shop; kitchens; old Dining Room; Bistro; Bake Shop; hares; ‘guts’;
||Opportunities gained during Apprenticeship
||Dave Saunders; mentor; Mike Miller; RACV; Lord Mayor’s Ball; Town Hall Victoria Hotel; display buffets; marquees; decorative works; awards; Federal Group; West Point; Casino; buffet decorations; Display Buffet; Set-up; Staff of six
||Teaching at WAI
||Diploma of Hotel Management; Trainer; Teacher; Hawthorn;
Certificate of Teaching; Diploma of Education; Bachelor of Education; Ray Way; Graham Dodson; Colin Wilson; front of house; restaurants; industry identity; accolades;
||Reflecting on his apprenticeship and the industry today
||Apprenticeship; training; authority; hospitality training packages;
||Transition from Cookery to Management
||Five-star; functions; display work; front-of-house staff; Chef-manager; industry; education; hotels; management; restaurants; menu; housekeeping; ‘prima donna’; chef; uniforms; ‘total touch’; work experience; Melbourne; Hilton on the Park; department; international; Asia; Scandinavia; Angliss; dyslexic; education;
||Career; management; holidays; learning difficulties; trainer; long hours; drop-out rate; 7 days a week apprentices; Waiter’s Handbook; Lilly Crapp; Front-of-house; manual; text; standard operating procedures manual
||Other Career Highlights
||Regional; Victoria; Dandenong TAFE;
George Hill; hotel; position; 1990s; Karon Hepner; Waiter’s Handbook; head of school;
||Theme Nights at Angliss
||Theme Nights; Catering Management Program; photographs; costumes; Opera; ballet; snow; eggnog; guests; To Sir with Love; Australiana;
||Current Work and Career Scope
||Educators; trainers; resources; innovation; voluntary work; TAFE Colleges; passion; education; diversify; job opportunities; function specialist; opening hotels; executive consultant; head of school; author
||End of Interview