Leidy Maldonado Ramirez’s interest in food dates back to her childhood. Since young, she has found joy in cooking and sharing recipes with family members. She was especially interested in finding the sweet spot between the delicious and the nourishing.
Growing up in Valledupar, Colombia, Leidy found a role model in Juan Manuel Barrientos Valencia, the mastermind behind the Elcielo restaurant chain, renowned chef and reputed businessman. His inspiring rise to the top helped her realise that she, too, could transform her passion into a career.
When it came down to determining where she should begin her culinary journey, all signs led to TAFE. “I chose TAFE because it is one of Australia’s best institutions, known for its high-quality educational offerings, excellent teachers and comfortable campus,” she explains.
Leidy was also chosen to receive the Destination Australia Scholarship. Prior to starting her studies at TAFE Queensland, she completed an IELTS preparation course at TAFE Queensland’s Southbank campus. What more could an international student need? Flexibility. Thankfully, the institution offers that too.
TAFE Queensland is highly regarded for its ability to deliver relevant choices to students in Australia and from across the globe. When Leidy was ready, they offered her the unique opportunity to pursue both a Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery and a Diploma of Hospitality in Cairns, Australia –– just one of TAFE Queensland’s 50 locations, 22 study areas that offer international programmes.
The packaged hospitality offer enables anyone and everyone to study and work in some of Australia’s finest restaurants as they climb the ranks to becoming a sous chef, chef or restaurant manager. Without a financial worry in mind, Leidy was able to immerse herself in the experience fully. “All I needed to do was focus,” she says.
Focus, she did. Her Mondays to Wednesdays would comprise of classes that are just as enjoyable as they are rigorous. Once, her teachers hosted a barramundi plating competition. While Leidy didn’t win, she still had the time of her life.
The experiential opportunities she’s taken on so far during her studies made it incredibly easy for her to land her current role as a staffer at Nu Nu restaurant –– one of Palm Cove, Cairns’s finest. On-the-job training such as this is customary for any student levelling up with TAFE.
“Who wouldn’t love working at a famous restaurant? I’m learning many different interesting things about the kitchen,” Leidy says. “I had many challenges in the beginning –– the biggest being that I wasn’t fast or confident. Today, I am. Every day calls for a new challenge, however, with time and practice, I am certain I will keep improving my skills and abilities.”
Soon, Leidy hopes to become a head chef. With the qualification she will soon add to her CV, there’s no reason why she won’t.
TAFE Queensland is the Sunshine State’s largest, most experienced training provider. It is known for specialising in practical, industry-relevant training across a range of industries –– think agriculture and horticulture; beauty; animal care; business, justice and management; maritime; manufacturing and design; sports and fitness; ICT, information and networking; tourism and events; among others.
In total, there are over 500 nationally-recognised qualifications ready to bring any and every aspiration to life –– each accredited and reviewed by industry advisory bodies.
With a certificate, learners quickly gain the skills they need to enter the workforce with confidence. With a diploma, they upgrade their expertise and gain new skills that they can put to use immediately. Alternatively, students can also opt for a bachelor degree and gain the skills and knowledge needed for professional, high-level or management jobs.
Those looking to take the vocational route are welcomed to partake in certified trade training. Every diploma and higher-level courses have diploma-to-degree pathways.
Over 112,000 students choose TAFE Queensland each year. Over 3,000 represent more than 90 countries and agree that every TAFE Queensland route is effective. The numbers speak for themselves — upon graduating, approximately 87% of students go on to work or pursue higher education. TAFE Queensland also boasts of a 93.6% employer satisfaction rating.
TAFE Queensland works in partnership with some of Australia’s top universities like CQ University and Griffith University, as well as several industry leaders such as The Star, Marriott, Accor, Hilton and more. These connections make it easy for all students to work toward becoming household names well before they graduate –– much like Leidy is doing today at Nu Nu. To follow in her footsteps, click here.