Rebecca Stokes – The Unstoppable Chef

Since winning gold at the 2008 WorldSkills Australia National Competition in Sydney in the VETiS Commercial Cookery category, Rebecca Stokes has certainly made her mark in the hospitality industry.

Rebecca’s love for cooking began when she entered into a hospitality course for VETiS in Year 11 at Eastern Goldfields College in Kalgoorlie, WA. Soon after, Rebecca decided to compete in the 2007 WorldSkills Australia Regional VETiS Competition where she was awarded the silver medal and was selected to represent WA at the National Competition the following year. Aside from taking home a gold medal at the National Competition, Rebecca also won the Kalgoorlie/Boulder Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Local Community Partnerships, School Based Apprentice of the Year (2008), The West Scheme funded award for the “Top VET Student” (2008) and the “Wholly School Dux” on her Year 12 graduation award night.

Rebecca says, “Winning gold in the National Competition gave me enough confidence in my skills to make the decision to find an apprenticeship at the best restaurant I could.” Which is exactly what she did.

At the age of 17, Rebecca moved to Perth and landed a position in fine dining at ‘The Loose Box’ owned by famous French Chef Alain Fabregues, “He said I was going to be his last apprentice as he was going to retire and he never took on female chefs but he gave me a shot based on the recommendation of his Maître De Manager,” said Rebecca.

As it turned out, Rebecca’s hard work and passion for her career encouraged Alain to take on even more female apprentice chefs before retiring, “Alain completed his apprenticeship over 40 years ago, when female chefs were extremely rare, I like to think that I inspired Alain to consider the value females can bring to the industry.”

After three years of living in a caravan in the country town of Gidgegannup whilst she completed her apprenticeship, Rebecca moved back home to Kalgoorlie and married her fiancé.

By the end of 2012 Rebecca moved to Melbourne with her husband where she quickly landed a Commis Chef position at Ombra Salumi bar, owned by renowned chef Guy Rossi.  After being in the position for four months, Rebecca was promoted to Sous Chef, where she was responsible for looking after the kitchen, staff, creating new menu ideas, coordinating staff rosters and writing daily prep lists.

In March this year, Rebecca moved on from her role at Ombra Salumi and has since been working as a waitress at Union Food and Wine in Ascot Vale, Melbourne, “I want to have a café one day with my husband and I want to learn how to deal with customers, serve them, make coffees and learn about wines. I love learning as many new things about the hospitality industry as I can” Rebecca says.

“Without WorldSkills I would never have known my true talent if I never competed. It gave me confidence in myself and cooking and I also made lifelong friends. WorldSkills gave me that dream of being and doing whatever I want. The world became my oyster and my passion isn’t fading. I never would have moved to Perth to enhance my career if I didn’t go through WorldSkills and I probably wouldn’t have been recognised if I didn’t enter the competition and win anything. It gave me that leg up and something to offer to the hospitality world to get me started. I now have a burning desire to own a cafe for people to come and chill out, have a fancy feed in a casual atmosphere.”