Lizzie Lorente and Jayde Harris both love to cook. Passionate and enthusiastic, the girls are now apprentices at Rockpool Bar & Grill

Their employment with Rockpool is thanks to the National Indigenous Culinary Institute (NICI), which offers a training and mentorship program for young aspiring Indigenous chefs. Jayde’s brother, a talented chef at Uluru’s famed Longitude 131 restaurant, inspired her to apply to the same training and mentoring program he had graduated from, offered by NICI. The experience for Jayde has taught her a lot about food and cooking, as well as life more broadly.  “I’m out on my own, I’m earning my own money, I’m paying my own bills and I’m learning new things every day,” she says. “Working with Rockpool Dining Group has been an incredible experience so far. I can’t wait to see where this opportunity takes me in the future.”

Lizzie is Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney’s youngest chef. The 17 year old’s love of cooking stems from her parents, whose cultural backgrounds were reflected in the dishes made for family meals. “My dad’s Spanish and my mum’s Australian, so we were always experimenting with things like paella, hearty roasts and interesting stews,” she says. “I loved cooking with my family when I was younger. I don’t remember a time when we weren’t in the kitchen.”

Both girls say they have learnt a lot during their time at Rockpool and are excited about their future career direction. “I didn’t expect to be learning so much so quickly,” Lizzie said, six months into her apprenticeship. “I thought I was going to be chopping carrots and peeling potatoes when I first started, but I’m treated like an adult and given the responsibility of creating entire dishes.”

Rockpool Bar & Grill offers NICI apprentices the chance to work and train in its kitchens, with full-time employment guaranteed at the end of the course.

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