What’s cooking in the Hampton Road kitchen?

July 5, 2017

Residents of Foundation Housing’s largest lodging house now have access to on-site cookery classes in the Hampton Road kitchen that can equip them with new life skills and fresh job opportunities.

An exciting new partnership has seen Empyrean Education Institute – a Fremantle-based registered training provider – lease Hampton Road’s commercial kitchen to deliver formal training courses and engage residents in the development of important life skills.

Hampton Road’s impressive kitchen, fully renovated last year thanks to a generous grant from Fremantle’s Impact 100 network and delivered by arts organisation FORM, is now a hive of culinary activity several days each week.

In addition to delivering training for a Certificate II in Kitchen Operations and a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery, Empyrean uses Hampton Road’s weekly delivery of fresh produce from Oz Harvest to show residents how they can prepare simple, wholesome meals.

A recipe for success

“Like Foundation Housing, we’re very much a community-focused organisation,” says Empyrean General Manager – Operations Andrew Hives.

“At Hampton Road, the goal for us is to help residents learn new skills and gain the confidence to get their lives back on track.

“For some, that will mean simply learning some basic meal preparation skills, but for others there is the opportunity to pursue new career opportunities.

“With 14 new hotels being built in the city, there are going to be lots of new job opportunities in tourism and hospitality.”

A new way forward for Michelle

Quick to take advantage of the new training opportunity was Hampton Road resident Michelle. At 42, becoming a chef has been a long-held but so far unrealised dream. Now she’s on the fast track to completing her Certificate III and says the experience has been life-changing.

“I started to study cookery a few years ago but it was a very large class and not at all personalised – I felt like a number and I withdrew,” Michelle says.

“This has been a completely different experience. When I told Empyrean about my background and what I wanted to achieve – which is to one day teach cooking to children with special needs and disadvantaged youth – they really listened. They’re so genuine.

“Initially I thought I’d do the Cert II, but they explained that the best pathway for me is the Cert III and they’ve helped me fast-track the course from one year to six months.

“Through this training, which is very much step by step and hands-on, I’ve learnt so many wonderful new skills and I completed practical experience at the Novotel Hotel, which was just fantastic.

“I used to lack a lot of confidence; now I’m looking beyond my training to job opportunities. I never thought I’d get to this position.”

Michelle says after a trip to visit family in Canada at the end of her Cert III training, she plans to enrol in a Cert IV and also move out of Hampton Road into a place of her own.

Five Hampton Road residents have enrolled in cookery training with Empyrean since the onsite courses started in May.

Foundation Housing’s Tenant Involvement Coordinator Julia MacDonald says the partnership with Empyrean is proving to be a “win-win” for everyone involved.