When Stephen Lunn started out on his pathway to becoming a chef at the tender age of 15 he couldn’t have imagined that it would take him around the world and to the pinnacle of his profession. But that is where Stephen’s stellar career has led him, and after 33 years in hospitality he wouldn’t change a thing.
“The best decision I ever made was to choose a vocational education and training pathway,” said Stephen, a proud member of the VET Alumni. “If I were to look back on my 15 year old self and wonder what I’d do differently, I’d still choose a trade, I’d still choose hospitality and I’d still be a chef.”
Stephen trained in Western Australia and worked for Sheraton hotels chain around the world. He ran a bar in the Greek Islands, cooked for celebrities in London, and came back to the Sheraton in Perth before running his own restaurant in the Whitsundays. He now calls Hobart home, where he owns a vineyard and cooking school with his wife and five daughters and has diversified into teaching—leading the VET Hospitality faculty at the Guilford Young College.
Along the way Stephen has collected a string of awards, including Western Australia’s Most Outstanding Chef Award in 1999, the Ireland International Salon Culinaire Gold Medal Award in 1997, the Tasmanian Teacher of the Year Award in 2011 and the Australian Training Awards VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year Award in 2015.
“Hospitality has been a wonderful career for me, and in turn I now want to give back to the industry,” said Stephen. “My role as a teacher enables me to make that contribution and ensure that students coming through have the foundations they need to set them up for success.”
Stephen is also giving back to the industry through his work as State President of the Tasmanian Chapter of the Australian Culinary Federation, a role which includes leading the development of new training packages for the industry.
Stephen’s advice for any young person considering a career in hospitality is first to have the right attitude. “Skills can be learnt but you can’t teach attitude,” he said. “What I want to see in my students is passion, dedication and commitment. If they show they want to be there that will pay dividends—employers will invest in them and will help them learn as much as they can absorb.”
Recognising the difficulty many young people have in making career decisions, Stephen offers hospitality masterclasses for students in Years 9 and 10 so they can get a taste of the industry before selecting their Year 11 subjects. “That way kids know what they’re signing up for when they begin Year 11 and they are there for the right reasons. Those that go into a trade at the end of Year 12 are going in for a career rather than a job,” he said.
Stephen believes that one of the best things about choosing a trade is the many avenues a VET pathway offers. “I tell my students that one of the great positives is that they don’t get stuck doing one thing,” he said. “Once they have a trade under their belt they can transfer their skills across many areas and forge their own pathway. They just need to choose what interests them, stick with it, work hard and seize any opportunities that come their way.
“As my own experience has shown, the possibilities are endless. VET has given me the freedom, flexibility and diversity to carve out an exciting and rewarding career.
"After more than three decades I’m still in hospitality and loving what I do. You can’t ask for any more than that.”