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 Graham 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 Interview

Interviewer:  Jill Adams
Interviewee: Graham Brown
Date: 20 August 2011
Recording Format: MP3     

Time

Content

Key Words

0:06

Apprenticeship Experience & Early Memories of WAI

  • Began in 1963 as an apprentice cook (5-year apprenticeship) with Federal Group in Queensland, working at Lennons
  • Transferred to Melbourne for training and started at WAI- which was the  only place for food training at the time
  •  Worked with the Federal chain, Federal Hotel, Menzies Hotel (before it was pulled down) and the Cockpit Restaurant which was the busiest restaurant at the time
  • Was very young (just 16) and had an amazing experience; recalls the great sense of camaraderie, still friends today with many in his class, although many aren’t  in the industry any longer
  • Finished apprenticeship and stayed on with the Federal Group and eventually moved into hotel management
  • Layout of WAI, remembers air raid shelters in the courtyard, bunkers built in both sides, set up like a boarding school; backdoor in the kitchen with a porch, all the meat used to hang there, not a pleasant experience
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’; 

4:40

Opportunities gained during Apprenticeship

  • Fabulous opportunities offered with many voluntary roles to cater functions, Lord Mayor’s Ball and other events
  • Dave Saunders (a mentor) introduced him to competitive processes and encouraged him to display his work, where he won a few awards
  • With Mike Miller (at the RACV) he gained an expertise that wasn’t part of the training
  • Took on a role with the Federal Group which later led to hotel management
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

7:40

Teaching at WAI

  • 1980 Went to Hawthorn for teacher training; completed Bachelor of Education in three years which he really enjoyed
  • Received management qualifications and was able to teach and be a student, wholly supported by the Institute
  • Principals/Directors of the Institute very supportive and encouraged new programs and developing new trainers
  • Was also responsible for running the restaurants and front of house, allowed him an outlet for his artistic streak
  • Idea that teachers needed to maintain industry identity in order to assist students to get skills they needed to get ahead. Used this as a supervisor to encourage teachers to work side by side with students and pass on their industry skills and knowledge
  • Has maintained friendships and contact with students all over the world
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;

14:16

Reflecting on his apprenticeship and the industry today

  • Apprenticeships are much faster today; yet feels his 5 years exposed him to so many skills and opportunities
  • Gained the ability to speak with authority and to expand on what he learned
  • Now he works in education and training, always encouraging trainers to share with students their experiences rather than just relying on training packages
Apprenticeship; training; authority; hospitality training packages;

16:00

Transition from Cookery to Management

  • Hotel chain gave him the opportunity to progress from cookery to display work and front of house
  • A full understanding of all functions was useful as a management tool and as a Chef - manager he could work either side if needed
  • Belief that management needs a ‘total touch’ important to be able to do everything, (including housekeeping) helps students to appreciate being a part of a team
  • Career  opened international hotels and trained staff always used the same ideas of operating as a team
  •  Was approached to join the team at Angliss, but had very little formal education so didn’t think it was possibility
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;

22:20

Career Reflections

  • Food wasn’t something he thought about as a career but he did dabble with it-
  • Taking on a trainer role, interested in trying, suited him with a young family although had a drop in salary
  • Enjoyed the change in hours and the opportunities good for the family (where prior to this worked most nights and weekends, 7 days a week)
  • His learning difficulties have helped him to identify students with learning difficulties and treat them appropriately
  • Written text for training – Waiter’s Handbook – (asked 16 years ago) and is published all over the world and has been translated and is used as standard operating procedures in hotels all over the world. No standard text when he started so put together manual and this was used by his students and adopted as the official Angliss Manual
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

29:00

Other Career Highlights

  • Left Angliss for Dandenong TAFE when offered the job as head of Front of House
  • Took over as head of school after George Hill left
  • Worked with Karon Hepner to write the Waiter’s Handbook – a good friend who he could sound off ideas and they wrote the handbook together to aid students to enhance their learning
Regional; Victoria; Dandenong TAFE;

George Hill; hotel; position; 1990s;  Karon Hepner; Waiter’s Handbook; head of school;

31:49

Theme Nights at Angliss

  • The Catering Management Program held Theme Nights  that became a feature of the Institute for over 9 years
  •  Big themes with zero budget and would make things happen that were unbelievable
  • His albums were donated to the archive
Theme Nights; Catering Management Program; photographs; costumes; Opera; ballet; snow; eggnog; guests; To Sir with Love; Australiana;

35:15

Current Work and Career Scope

  • Now works with educators everywhere and trainers to find the best resources and implement innovative ideas to pass onto students
  • His resources help people with learning barriers like he had and work on enhancing learning and giving confidence
  • His career has been a passion, in the same industry but moved around in it with job opportunities of a lifetime!
  • Would never have thought those early days at William Angliss as a 16 year old that all of that was ahead
Educators; trainers; resources; innovation; voluntary work; TAFE Colleges; passion; education; diversify; job opportunities; function specialist; opening hotels; executive consultant; head of school; author

39:28

End of Interview

 


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