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Raina Kadar is living proof that it's never too late for a career change. The 35-year-old flight attendant turned sous chef from Melbourne is inspiring others to take charge of their future.
Growing up as a British Israeli in the UK, Raina Kadar loved to cook. She spent every chance she could in the kitchen, preparing meals for her father and two sisters.
“Sometimes they were as simple as sandwiches, but they always ate what I served up,” she says.
But when deciding what she wanted to do as a long-term career, hospitality was frowned upon as an industry that was “too stressful” and required long hours.
So, instead of pursing her dream, she took a job as a flight attendant and worked the skies for six years, with hospitality always in the back of her mind.
“One day I woke up and thought, this isn’t for me,” she says. “That’s when I decided to quit my job and have a change of career. I think it’s never too late to do something you really love.”
Soon enough Raina found herself booking a one-way ticket to Australia after enrolling in a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at Le Cordon Bleu’s Melbourne campus.
At Le Cordon Bleu they really prepare you for working in the industry by learning traditional techniques and how to implement them in modern cuisine
“I had previously visited Australia on vacation and fell in love with it,” she says. “I loved that it was so diverse and multicultural…I immediately felt at home and knew this was where I wanted to study and, eventually, live.”
Fast-forward to 2023 and Raina now leads the kitchen of acclaimed Melbourne restaurant, Farmer’s Daughters, where she went from an entry level cook’s position to sous chef in less than eight months.
Her role involves supervising staff, hiring and training new employees, food ordering, rostering, invoicing, as well as cooking exotic Gippsland-focused dishes that are served as a set dinner menu.
“I got the job through Le Cordon Bleu after doing my work placement there,” she says. “I did a trial in the kitchen where the head chef told me I had good knife skills and he hired me on the spot.
She says it usually takes someone between five and ten years to climb the ranks into sous chef status, and credits the knowledge absorbed through Le Cordon Bleu, as well as her experience from previous jobs.
“I had no kitchen experience before studying at Le Cordon Bleu, but was familiar with managing teams from my job as a flight attendant,” she says.
“At Le Cordon Bleu they really prepare you for working in the industry by learning traditional techniques and how to implement them in modern cuisine.”
She says Le Cordon Bleu Melbourne’s staff were also a large part of her success story.
“The chefs were amazing…I still remember the little things they said to me to make something perfect,” she says. “They have a lot of knowledge and the way they explained things was very understandable to everyone.”
Despite many negative misconceptions about the industry, Raina advises prospective chefs to take it all in their stride.
“People say it’s stressful and everyone is out to get you, but it couldn’t be further from the truth,” she says. “I know it sounds cliché but I really love my job…I packed up my life, left behind my friends and family and moved to Australia on my own to start something new and I’m so happy I made that decision."
Check your eligibility for a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery
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