With a background in the VET sector where he taught apprentice chefs and hospitality staff, Oliver brings a welcome industry approach to his willing students.
Focusing on resilience and transferable skills to enhance their employability and interpersonal skills, the proof has been in the pudding, so to speak.
“I believe in challenging my students!” he says emphatically. “We have fun, but I expect a very high level of work from them, and with constructive and critical feedback, the students have produced some amazing work.”
A recent unit involved the making of Choux Pastry, a task usually only attempted by third year apprentice chefs.
“Our sweets have seen students graduate from choux buns to Paris-Brest to mini Croquembouche’s with spun sugar filled with creme patisserie,” Oliver says.
“We have an amazing team here, from our kitchen assistant, teaching assistants, teachers, canteen staff and willing students.
Food technology staff gather every Monday morning to discuss all the rigours of operating a successful program.
“So, for example, we scaffold the learning of our sweets from basic choux to works of art and our Bombe Alaskas are derived from Victorian sponges as the base (which are later perfected into lamingtons), ice cream, three different types of meringue and praline as the garnish.
“Once familiarised with praline comes the beautifully spun sugar to showcase our Croquemboushes.”
Thankfully for the rest of Brooks High, Oliver’s students do plenty of catering within the school, meaning they gain valuable employability skills, and their schoolmates’ tastebuds are regularly tantalised.