People, food, and seeing fare migrate from paddock to plate – Charlize Ashby has a passion for all things hospitality and the award to prove it.

The Brigidine College Randwick Year 12 student was named ‘VET in Schools Student of the Year – NSW Central and North Sydney Region’ in the 2023 NSW Training Awards.

The awards are held annually to recognise outstanding achievement in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.

Charlize, who has completed a Certificate II in Kitchen Operations, is now one of three finalists for the state-wide award from a pool of 40,000 students.

“It was so amazing that the hard work I put into hospitality paid off,” she said.

“I’d see it on my timetable and think ‘I’m so excited for that’.”

VET ambassador

Part of being a NSW Training Awards regional winner and state finalist is to be an ambassador for VET, speaking with other students and schools about her experience as a hospitality student. As a self-described people person, she relishes the opportunity.

“I love how hospitality is inclusive of everyone.” – Charlize Ashby

“There is a mix of theory and practical skills,” she said.

“You can stop thinking about the books for a moment and create something in the kitchen to eat, serve to your friends or take home to your family.”

Charlize has put her hospitality qualification and Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) gained through her school to work in her roles at Mad Mex and Merivale Venues.

She has also catered for 800 school open day guests and was booking manager at Kingsford restaurant Pinocchio’s for a night.

Classroom and career

NSW Training Awards winner Charlize AshbyCharlize has received early acceptance to a teaching degree at Australian Catholic University and plans to become a hospitality teacher.

She said a ‘Paddock to plate’ excursion was a highlight of completing her Certificate II in Kitchen Operations.

 “We travel out to Canowindra and go and visit the small farms who produce wheat and dairy,” she said.

“We went to a farm and some of us cooked dinner for the whole grade which was great.”

Visits to her grandparent’s farm in Taree have also influenced her love of hospitality.

“That has definitely inspired me in my studies because I see how food is grown and how it goes to our plate,” she said.

“You can so easily make meals that are so good for you.”