John Miller






About John Miller

 The John Mangan Miller Kitchen at William Angliss Institute is a highly valued teaching and learning resource, used every day by student apprentices. The kitchen was named after John Miller, whose involvement with the college began in 1945, when he enrolled as a ‘Tuesday apprentice’. In 1945, students studied at the college on a particular day every week and John was among the first students who were not affiliated to any of the armed services.

The war finished … and a month later I came here and … was the first apprentice cook to do any training as an apprentice. Between 1939 and 1945 there were many people doing cookery courses, but they were mostly RAAF and Army … and the American Marines. … Between ‘39 and ‘45 cookery was mainly made up of servicemen and was training people for the services. In 1945, they decided they would move to apprenticeships in cookery for the trade.

After completing his apprenticeship, John worked and travelled widely, including London, Hong Kong and Egypt. His apprenticeship and cookery education provided him with the sound basis for him to become a highly accredited chef and industry innovator.

My training … and my studies at the William Angliss College opened doors in all of those places. … When the Australian people came to London to select cooks for the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, the reason I was approached was because somebody mentioned I was from William Angliss College.

John worked in Melbourne in the 1960s, and then in 1970 was offered a position as a trainee teacher of basic cookery by then Principal Jock Kerr, who he had trained with 25 years before. He enjoyed his time as a teacher, becoming Head of the Foods Department in 1980. John was then offered a position teaching Western Cookery at Hong Kong Polytechnic, where he taught for four years, eventually returning to the William Angliss Institute in 1984 where he was employed as Senior Curriculum Development Officer. One of his proudest achievements was developing the Diploma program, for which he designed the curriculum and wrote training materials, implemented specialised units, and streamlined the way young Diploma students were taught.

The best thing I did for William Angliss College, after my time in Hong Kong, was to come back and build on what my colleagues had done here in the apprenticeship program. … The thing I’m most proud of was the development of the Diploma Course and the reception it got. I was Executive Officer on that so I had an awful lot of input and I suppose a lot of power. And it all came together, and to this day I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘Oh, I think that was lousy.’ I think we did a very good job and all the people involved (about 30 people) worked very hard … I think that was the best thing I did. 

John was also involved in setting the curriculum for state-wide food and culinary programs, developing courses for restaurant operations and introducing more specialised skill units to suit different needs and emerging markets. He also improved training modules for the Army, Navy and Air Force culinary staff. Through his friendship with French Chef Paul Bocuse he also initiated a national search for talented candidates, selected by jury to travel to Lyon to compete in the bi-annual Bocuse Competition for Professional Chefs, one of the most prestigious contests of culinary skills in the world.

John worked for the college until his retirement in 1992, earning an Order of Australia medal for service and dedication to French Cuisine and Cookery in food education programs. He looks back on his time and long history with the institute with a sense of pride and achievement, acknowledging the important role William Angliss Institute played in the expansion of the food industry and trade in Australia.

I often refer to William Angliss Food School as the ‘Mother’ of all catering colleges in Australia. Everything grew out of William Angliss College.

Summary of the Interview

Interviewer:  Jill Adams
Interviewee: John Miller
Date of Interview: Part One [8/03/2011] / Part Two [15/03/2011]
Recording Format: MP3 





Experiences at William Angliss

  • September 1945 Student, completed apprenticeship 1949
  • 1970 Trainee Teacher with Jock Kerr whom he had trained with, and was then principal of the college
  • Remained a teacher at the college until 1980
  • During that time he had taken up a scholarship to study in Japan for three months
  • Late 1980 offered a position in Hong Kong
  • Returned in 1984, Ray Way (Principal of college) and Graham Dodgshun offered him position as Senior Curriculum Development Officer
  • Worked in this role until 1992, also responsible for Hospitality and Food Courses at State Level
Apprenticeship in cookery; Melbourne Olympics; Hong Kong Hilton; Nile Hilton; Hyatt; trainee teacher; Jock Kerr; Principal of College; Hong Kong Polytechnic; Principal lecturer;  Ray Way; Graham Dodgshun; Senior Curriculum Development Officer; Hospitality & Tourism; State Training Board;


John Mangan Miller Kitchen & Other Honours

  • Originally a demonstration kitchen, updated and made into full kitchen
  • Perhaps a tribute to his continual involvement with the College [lectures, classes, student development]
  • Other TAFE/Colleges have things named for him [His important role in Commercial Cookery]
  • Honoured for his influence along with other Chefs/trainers
  • Received Order of Australia Medal for his contribution to education and the service of French Cuisine in Australia, honoured by French Government for this as well [Knight of the Order of Merit for Agriculture & Fishery]
John Mangan Miller Kitchen; Demonstration Kitchen; commercial cookery; Frankston TAFE; John Miller Award; Dandenong/ Casey TAFE; Order of Australia Medal; Claudio Margas; French cuisine; French Government; Knight of the Order of Merit for Agriculture & Fishery; Paris; Chevalier; Bocuse;


Friendship with Paul Bocuse

  • 1988 became involved in World Congress of Cooks in Johannesburg and invited to French schools in Lyon, to compete and showcase skills
  • Ongoing commitment to the program, even as President of Australasian Guild of Professional Cooks Ltd
  • Involved in choosing a competitor to represent Australia
Paul Bocuse; World Congress of Cooks;  Johannesburg; France; Paris; Lyon;  Crown Casino; Brisbane; Academy  Français; French Cuisine; monk fish; lamb; red signature beef;


Experiences as a Student, 1945

  • First apprentice to be a cookery student at Institute, before war only RAAF, Army and American Marines trainees (1939-1940)
  • In 1945 WAI moved to offer apprenticeships in cookery for the trade and away from services
  • Offered a chance to learn cookery, signed up as apprentice at Commercial Travellers’ Club
Post-war WAI; apprentice cook;  RAAF, Army and Marines trainees;  Commonwealth Electoral Office; Mike O’Brien;  ration cards; Scott’s Hotel; Collins Street; Freemason’s; E.J. Binney; William Angliss Food trade Board; Commercial Travellers’ Club; 










Commercial Travellers’ Club

  • No longer exists, now called Hotel Rendezvous
  • Was an exclusive Men’s Club, Prince Phillip was a visitor when stationed in Melbourne
  • Brief foray into women memberships
  • Very busy club, served mostly simple fare that “went with beer”
  • 30 dozen eggs used sometimes just for breakfast
  • ‘Commercial Traveller’ a salesman that travels around the state and Australia selling their product, stopping at hotels that were associated with the Commercial Travellers’ Association (CTA Sign)
  • Overview of Wine being incorporated and accompanied with food
Hotel Rendezvous;  Men’s Club; Prince Phillip; Navy; Victoria Barracks; sandwiches; pint; beer; Calcutta (sweepstakes); chambermaids; milk; chicken salad; ham salad; lamb salad; yogurt; tripe & onions; shillings; eggs; fried; boiled; sautéed kidneys; fried fish; Commercial Travellers’ Association; wine; beer; Flinders’ Street Station; Plonk; The Railway Hotel; Orlando Wine; CTC Liquor Licence; Sherry;







WAI Student Experience

  • Came in to train at WAI one day a week (Tuesday), had four apprentices training at a time for 40 weeks (one year)
  • Studied with Zimmerman and Miss Finley, Basic Commercial Cookery Course which allowed for specialisation at the end (Italian, French)
  • Left to work in London after graduation, in mostly French Cuisine
Chef Zimmerman; Miss Finley; Basic Commercial Cookery Course; Italian Cuisine; French Cuisine; London; Goring Hotel; Buckingham Palace;


Other Career Experiences

  • The British Mercantile Navy as a mercantile cook on a ship
  • Worked at The Savoy in London and studied at London Polytechnic College
Military service; Army; Cardiff; merchant navy;   mercantile cook; Cumberland Marble Arch Hotel; The Savoy;  banquet; chicken; turkey; duck; fish;  London Polytechnic College; cake decorating course; cookery & pastry;


Catering the Melbourne Olympic Games

  • Worked at Hotel Menzies, headquarters of Melbourne Olympics
  • Change in Melbourne Cuisine with many renowned European Chefs coming to work in Olympic Village in Heidelberg
  • Some chefs stayed to open restaurants, Hermann Schneider opened Two Faces in South Yarra
  • Demand of different food/cuisine from athletes/guests
Hotel Menzies;  Melbourne Olympics;  Chevron Hotel; Hong Kong; General Macarthur; Hermann Schneider; European Chefs; Two Faces; South Yarra;   Heidelberg Olympic Village; Housing Commission;


Working in Hong Kong and Egypt

Heliopolis; Hong Kong Hilton; Area Chef; Cheops; Pyramids; Six-day War; 1967; Cyprus; Executive Chef; Nile Hilton; Excelsior Hotel; Rome; Sous Chef; buffet; Chinese; Hepatitis; Alexandria; South Africa;


Working in Melbourne during the 1960s

  • Difference in apprentice experience in cooking in the 1940s to being head chef in 1960s
  • Worked at Travelodge in 1969 and then the Beaconsfield Hotel
Melbourne Travelodge; St Kilda Road; Executive Chef; Frank Christie; Melbourne Hilton; Chevron Hilton; Beaconsfield Hotel; grills; beer;


Working at William Angliss

  • Trainee Teacher in 1970
  • 1972 Graduated with a trade certificate, 1973 Diploma of Education
  • Subjects taught during his time focused on basic cookery
  • 1980 Head of foods department
Hawthorn Teacher’s College;  trainee teacher; Technical education; commercial cookery; upmarket cuisine; Australian cuisine; Foods Department Head;


Hong Kong Polytechnic College 1980-1984

  • Diploma in Western food (French and English) cookery for Hotels/Hospitality/Catering
  • Senior Lecturer
Catering management; French/English Cuisine; India; Chinese; Macau; Diploma; Front Office; Hospitality; catering; principal lecturer; Thailand; USA; Taiwan;










1984-1992 WAI Senior Curriculum Development Officer

  • Profile of college compared to other institutes was very high and opened lots of doors
    • Involved in Diploma/certificate, streamline of course and contracting teachers to develop specialised units
    • Involved in collating textbooks
    • Culinary Courses all around Melbourne TAFEs, curriculum for Victoria
    • George Hill and others helped him to develop a full diploma/degree program
Senior Curriculum Development Officer; Intercontinental Hotel; Geneva; Diploma Program; Hong Kong University; Macau University; China University;  Advanced Apprenticeship in Cookery; Brighton Tech; South Melbourne; Footscray TAFE; Dandenong/Casey TAFE;  Gordon Institute; Geelong; Graham Dodgshun; George Hill;  full diploma/degree program; foods department;  


Changes in Melbourne’s Culinary Scene & How WAI adapted

  • Development of academic program and skill diversity at Institute to suit needs of culinary scene
  • 121 different cuisines in Victoria/NSW
  • Developed courses on Restaurant Operation, Specialised Programs and Skills to suit different needs/new markets
  • Developed courses for Army, Navy & Air Force training (long history of training since 1940)
  • Retirement in 1992
Graham Dodgshun; academic program; cookery; butchery; bakery; cosmopolitan; Restaurant Operation; Specialised Programs and Skills; Victoria; NSW; pastry; desserts; Black Forest Gateau; Filo Pastry; Greek Restaurants; chocolate cake; new markets; Army, Navy & Air Force training; Yarraville; Puckapunyal; Flinders; Marine; Reserve Force;  Nielson Huts; Sergeant Jock Kerr; Catering Corps; Principal Director; Mike O’Brien; Queens’ Road; Gold Coast; Federal Group;


Student Awards

  • Bocuse Competition for Professional Chefs, students travelled to France to compete
  • Australian Competitions for apprentice cooks, Meat & Allied Trades Competition, SEC Competition for Apprentices, Fruit & Vegetable Associations Competitions, Guild Competitions (Australian Culinary Federation)
  • Most prestigious was Bocuse Competition, jury decided best candidates to send (5 hours to produce dishes), quite involved with many specific rules and regulations
Bocuse Competition; France;  Professional Chefs; Senior Cooks; Lyon; Victoria; Queensland; South Australia; New South Wales; Meat & Allied Trades Competition; SEC Competition for Apprentices; Fruit & Vegetable Associations Competitions; Guild Competitions (Australian Culinary Federation); jury; Luke Mangan; Philippe Mouchel; Brisbane; fish; meat; garnishes; apron; neck chief;


Biggest Contribution to WAI

  • John Mangan Miller Kitchen
  • Promoting WAI everywhere he went
  • The ‘best thing’  he did and what he is most proud of was the development of the Diploma Course
  • WAI as an innovator and leader in Culinary Studies
John Mangan Miller Kitchen;  David Sanders; Norma Finley; promotion of WAI; Vestey Group; Administration; Armadale, NSW; teacher’s college; summer session; Culinary Studies; Latrobe Street;


Interview Concludes
































































































































































Listen to our Oral Histories online

    Alan Stebbing        Maurice-BW  
   Beth-BW        Peter-BW  
   Eva-BW        RayE-BW  
   Darlyl-BW        Richard-BW  
   Graham-BW        Ron-BW  
   John BW        Steven-BW  
   Iance-BW        Win-BW  
   Eric-BW        RayWay BW  
   Shirley-BW        Jim-BW  

            List of Projects         
Oral History Project 
Digitisation Projects









Search in Special Collections

             List of Special Collections            
Culinary Research Collection
Fuller Collection
Menu Collection
Zimmerman Collection
Community and Advertising Cookbooks Collection
William Angliss Archive Collection
              Access Our Collections                


Collections opening hours:

Monday to Friday: 10am - 3pm

Closed weekends and public holidays

Enquiries and appointment via Email

                     Make Donations                      

Donations are important for developing our special collections, please click our Donations Policy and Procedure to find out more about donating.

Donations Policy and Procedure

                        Virtual Tour                          
on-campus access only



 List of Digital Collections