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Alumni Video Series: Meet Tal Buchnik

In the bustling streets of a small town in Israel, a 13-year-old boy found his passion amidst the sizzle of street food stalls. Tal Buchnik's first foray into the culinary world was humble, simply learning to wash dishes and prepare vegetables. Little did he know, those early days would ignite a fire within him that would transform into a remarkable career.

But as soon as he turned 18, Tal was summoned to join the Israel military – a compulsory service for all Israeli men once they reach adulthood. The rigours of service forced him to put his culinary dreams on hold, but despite being immersed in a completely different world, his love for cooking never waned.

“As soon as my time was up, I went straight into kitchens,” he recalls.

“I worked at an Italian restaurant in Tel Aviv and it was there that made me realise that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Driven by his passion and thirst for knowledge, Tal set his sights on expanding his culinary horizons. He dreamed of studying at Le Cordon Bleu, drawn by its prestigious reputation and the allure of Australia, a country he had always longed to explore.

“I really wanted to take my skills to the next step and I knew it had to be at Le Cordon Bleu in Australia,” he says.

“I had a relative who lived in Australia at the time and they would always talk about how beautiful the country was, so I had to check it out for myself.”

I really wanted to take my skills to the next step and I knew it had to be at Le Cordon Bleu in Australia.

Without second guessing, he embarked on a journey halfway across the globe to pursue his dreams with a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at Le Cordon Bleu’s Sydney campus. During his studies, Tal found more than just a school – he found a supportive network of likeminded people, from fellow classmates to expert lecturers.

“The teachers were all really patient and professional and that laid a solid foundation for getting us into the industry,” he says.

Through the Commercial Cookery program, he was also exposed to industry networks which is a large part of how he got to where he is today.

His industry placement at Ms. G’s (part of renowned hospitality group Merivale), resulted in a paid position with the company. After years of hard work, Tal managed to climb the ranks and is now Merivale’s venues head chef, overseeing a range of establishments under the hospitality group’s umbrella.

Today, Tal stands as a testament to the transformative power of education and perseverance. His role at Merivale encompasses everything from day-to-day operations to creative menu direction. But his greatest joy lies in mentoring and guiding the next generation of culinary talents, including students from Le Cordon Bleu Australia who walk through Merivale's doors – just as he did all those years ago.

For Tal, the journey from street food to fine dining has been nothing short of extraordinary. But throughout it all, his favourite memories from his time at Le Cordon Bleu are not just the culinary lessons, but the lifelong friendships forged in the kitchen.

As he travels the world, he finds comfort in reconnecting with his Le Cordon Bleu classmates, sharing stories over cultural family dinners in all corners of the globe.

To those considering a similar path, Tal offers a simple piece of advice: "Just go for it."

“Yes it can be scary moving to another country, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience, but the tools gained will be the tools needed to get your foot in the door of an amazing industry.

“It’s a lot of hard work but it is definitely worth it.”

Explore Le Cordon Bleu Australia’s Commercial Cookery program