Frank Camorra will be joining a solid lineup of guest speakers, including Guy Grossi, at this year’s William Angliss Institute virtual open day commencing online this Saturday from 10am to 3pm. Chef and owner of the MoVida group of restaurants, Frank is a strong supporter of the highly respected training college. He has chosen to speak at the open day to explain the positive aspects gained from well-structured hospitality training and how varied the future career opportunities are; particularly for those concentrating on customer service roles backed with a solid grounding in food preparation.
Essentials’ editor Jamie Durrant spoke to Frank Camorra about the challenges the industry has faced over the last two years, why all MoVida restaurants are closed during lockdown and where the future may be heading for those considering a career in hospitality.
How is the hospitality industry travelling this deep into the pandemic?
‘It feels like 2021 is more difficult and more destructive for hospitality than it was last year. Last year we were supported by government grants and subsidies, so we were able to maintain the business through home deliveries and takeaway, which kept our heads above water.’
‘Since the removing of grants and other government programs like payroll tax breaks, rent assistance programs and Job Keeper, it’s a very different situation. We’ve now stopped doing home deliveries, as without the government support we’d be going backwards. We’re actually in a better financial position doing nothing than trying to compete in that space.’
‘Also, the difficulty this year has been the stopping and starting. Restaurants use many perishable ingredients, and reopening takes a lot of time and effort to get back up and running. And then there’s the confidence from customers; from our experience, it takes several weeks, a month or so for people to come back to dining again. And with capacity restrictions, the initial openings are not profitable, you’re only just getting the wheels turning.’
‘The aftermath of a lockdown closure is huge, and then to get hit another closure a short time after reopening is extremely frustrating.’
Frank explains that 2020 was ‘frightening; however, the one thing that’s good about 2021 is that we have a better grasp of what’s happening. There’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, but how far away that light is, we still don’t know.’
Has the pandemic affected the number of available qualified chefs working in the Australian industry?
‘A big part of our industry involves internationals coming and working here, in recent times it has become a part of how we provide a service. A good amount of our staff are international and their presence does make a difference. We certainly have found it difficult to find experienced staff; in particular front of house staff. Some of our more experienced chefs have decided to make a career change or a location change.’
‘We’ve lost two head chefs and a sous chef, that have moved on to places less likely to face lockdowns, taking on roles in Byron and Brisbane. I think that’s got a lot to do with the major Melbourne lockdown (in 2020) – people just want a change of lifestyle. We all know that people are moving away from the big cities to smaller regional areas. Certainly, some of our former server staff have found the opportunity to take on good roles that are comparable to what we can offer.’
What does William Angliss Institute offer that encourages you to support it and speak on the open day?
‘I didn’t train at William Angliss; however, ever since we’ve had MoVida, I’ve encouraged our apprentices to go there, as I have confidence that the training and facilities and the staff all work at a higher level than most hospitality training collages. They provide a fantastic approach to teaching that includes a professional chefs training component, allowing students to work with a series of great chefs in their third year – people like Guy Grossi or Ben (Cooper) from Chin Chin – many of the big names – and I think the more open people are to different cuisines and ideas the better. The college set-up is professional, authentic, and in Melbourne’s past, when there were some very dodgy collages operating, William Angliss always stood out – head and shoulders above the rest.’
What will you talk about at this Saturday’s William Angliss Institute virtual open day?
‘I will be discussing the industry as it stands currently, including the challenges that we’re all facing and the opportunities that have been coming along. I’ll also be discussing my role in the industry and my journey, how I opened a restaurant and how we’ve worked through the last couple of years.’
Frank says that hospitality is an industry worth getting into. ‘The possibilities for people that commit to their craft are amazing.’
How varied are the roles in the hospitality industry?
‘You don’t have to be tied to the same role for your entire life. But we all need to learn a craft, and even for me, the favourite thing about my life is cooking food – that’s the point. But, for example, I also understand that long term, when you get into your 50s, hospitality and restaurants can be physically demanding. Still, I want to explain that there are many other opportunities – there are all sorts of businesses that have a food component that doesn’t require you to be on your feet 7 nights a week.’
‘There is a pathway to make a sustainable work/life career balance that can include moving on (from restaurants) to food production businesses like larger butchers or management roles. Having said that, while many people do change careers, I think hospitality, in general, provides exceptional skills – front of house in particular. So many people come into it with minimal social skills, and by the end, I can see that their confidence and ability to sell and problem solve has grown expeditiously. All this from that day-to-day interaction with the public. It’s a wonderful grounding for many people.’
About the Open Day
William Angliss Institute is a specialist training provider for the hospitality sector, including food, hospitality, tourism, hotel and event management. Virtual open day attendees can log on from the comfort of their homes and connect with various guest speakers, alumni and industry professionals for an interactive and in-depth introduction to the wide range of study options the institute has to offer.
Prospective students will have the opportunity to hear from over 14 guest speakers, get involved in five virtual masterclasses and engage across four industry panel discussions. Over 1000 prospective local, regional and international students are expected to log on to the William Angliss Institute virtual open day experience.
William Angliss Institute virtual Open Day 2021
When: Saturday, 14 August 2021 from 10am to 3pm
Where: Online via website registration, below
Register now to attend the virtual online open day: