With over 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, Kilmore local mum, Jaclin Parkinson, decided to head back to school to upskill and take her cake and dessert making skills to the next level—ready to take on the Victorian TAFE Patisserie Challenge.
Since enrolling in her course, 52-year-old Jaclin has been a standout student and was selected to represent Melbourne Polytechnic at the Victorian TAFE Patisserie Challenge next month.
Before starting, her goal was to use her new knowledge to launch her own business.
“I’ve always been in the hospitality industry, working in cafes, restaurants and pubs. I love working with people and working with food,” said Jaclin.
“Having been a cake decorator all my life, I wanted to advance my knowledge on a more professional level, that’s why I looked into courses at Melbourne Polytechnic.
“I had come to a point in my life where I could take time off work, and concentrate on studying full time.”
Jaclin secured a place in Certificate IV in Patisserie with plans to commence the course in 2020. With the impact of COVID-19 affecting her practical classes, Jaclin’s studies were delayed and have continued throughout 2021.
During COVID-19, Jaclin shares that she often leaned on other students to get through this challenging time.
“I have made some great friends both international and local. The support I received from teachers and fellow students through COVID was amazing. If it wasn’t for this support a lot of us may not have continued the course,” she said.
“Studying has opened a whole new area of expertise for me because I’ve been introduced to ingredients I’d never heard of, techniques that I had never tried and equipment I would normally not get to use.
“Being in a practical setting with the teachers to support you is an incredible help. You can ask a million questions and you get the answers you need. Learning in a hands-on environment compared to a course online is invaluable.”
Certificate IV in Patisserie at Melbourne Polytechnic advances students’ knowledge of desserts and allows them to fine-tune their artisan pastry skills.
“I’ve become really good friends with the teachers at Melbourne Polytechnic, they’ve been supportive of my journey. They’re very knowledgeable, and approachable,” Jaclin said.
With years spent in varying hospitality roles, Jaclin’s ultimate goal is to start her own cake decorating business specialising in personalised cakes, desserts and gateaux.
“COVID-19 has had a huge impact on hospitality. It’s hard to say how many businesses will survive this climate, but it gives people a better appreciation of the industry,” she said.
Jaclin’s passion for baking saw her excel in the course and receive a nomination for the Student of the Year award in Patisserie. Jaclin’s teachers have put forward her skills to represent Melbourne Polytechnic at the Victorian TAFE Patisserie Challenge on July 8.
“All TAFEs that offer patisserie courses have put forward a team of two, and we must bake to meet a supplied criteria in a certain time frame. We are making chocolate eclairs, tarts and gateaux.
“I’m really looking forward to it and am honoured to be recognised in this way by my teachers.
“I get time to practice at school and with the other student I’ve been teamed up with. Our teachers are giving us their time to help guide us, and hopefully we’ll take the prize home.”
Jaclin is an inspiration for those considering upskilling or career changing later in life, especially with the current effects of COVID-19 in Melbourne.