The first article of the “Meet the Mentors” series was generously contributed by current student Chelsea Hu, who is studying a Combined Advanced Diploma of Event Management and Advanced Diploma of Hospitality Management. Chelsea is also a finalist in the 2016 High Flyer Program and working at Novotel. 

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“Husband, father, chef; love every role I have in life.” A few of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to meet with John McFadden, Group Executive Head Chef and Culinary Director of Criniti’s food chain – as we sat and spoke about his take on the importance of an empowering support system in order to foster a community of growth for developing leaders within the hospitality industry.

(Photo: Chelsea Hu & John McFadden)

 

Beyond his job title, and obvious expertise in the area – John stands amongst the top leaders in the cookery community as an advocate for nurturing young talent in hospitality. In getting to know him on a personal level, he speaks of his humble beginnings as a kitchen-hand from the age of 12, with a growing 35 years in the industry and how he quickly learnt to master the art of a work-life balance. Following our conversation, it becomes more and more evident that it was this passion that drew him to Kenvale College’s Mentoring program where he is the ideal mentor to be able to motivate and nurture young people to show initiative and persist in working well within such a competitive and fast-moving industry.

After being linked with the college for just over a year now, he has proved himself to be the perfect match for the institution, as Kenvale mirror’s his own values in educating students and working out motivations and priorities as well as discipline and time management. He further expands on this sentiment in his own words:

Mentors are matched to mentees in a support role, assisting particularly with their work/life balance and their personal and professional development. Mentors need to be role models of the highest standard of professionalism and integrity and foster the same in students. Mentoring is important as it is time spent listening, rather than dictating – customising yourself to an individual’s personality, culture and values. 

As a mentor, he hopes to build trust and personal relationships with mentees where he is able to work with them one on one in making a difference in their careers and helping them get established. By bringing his family values to the table, he hopes that together, he is able to motivate change in identifying and understanding challenges and further, working on collectively implementing a solution that is both effective and sustainable for their futures.

 

To build on this, his volunteering within this program is not a singular example of the work he does actively encouraging education and training as his workplace has also recently partnered with the Hospitality Training Network in creating opportunities for growing talent. He regularly uses his large social network following to promote his work along with his team: an example being that he appeared on Studio 10 earlier last month to do a live cooking segment for a pasta masterclass. Furthermore, he was also hand-selected to be Head Judge for Australian Professional Chef of the Year 2018, after having previously participated for seven years. They have described him as “an excellent mentor and leader for all the judges and finalists” due to his wealth of experience and therefore, it is safe to say that it is an absolute pleasure and honour for people of all rankings, to work with (and in my case, sit down with) such a professional and inspiring leader of today.

Follow John McFadden on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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Testimonials

Thank you for inviting us – we really did appreciate it. I must say I was really impressed by the Briar Ridge team – one of them (… Aiden) did a really great job explaining who they were, what they were about etc., and really took the time to give us the background on the person behind it all (Gwyn Olsen). He’d clearly immersed himself in the project, and I think she’d have been really pleased if she’d seen that. Happy to reach out and tell her so if you think it would help pave the way for future events.

- Anonymous, Winefest Guest 2015

I just wanted to express thanks and congratulations to all at Kenvale for the magnificent lunch provided on Thursday.

I have been to many hatted restaurants this year and can honestly say that they would have struggled to produce such fantastic dishes.

The lunch was a credit to your students and your staff.  It would be a privilege to enjoy another visit next year.

Best wishes to your graduating students for success in their career and to your staff to continue to guide students to reach such a high standard.

- Anonymous public guest at Kenvale Restaurant 2015

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