Tiwi College Project Visit October 2016

A few weeks ago two of our alumni young chefs, Aaron Ward & Troy Crisante along with our project director Phee Gardner were invited to spend a week with the Hayden Reynolds Tiwi College Project. The Tiwi College Project seeks to improve the well being of the Tiwi Island youth by providing educational opportunities at Tiwi College, ‘We seek to create opportunities, which provide pathways for positive social change’. This is achieved by harnessing the profile and influence of positive role models across the fields of sport, entertainment and by a cross section of corporate executives who are keen to share experiences and opportunities that will enhance social change.

Aaron and Troy shared their cooking skills & food knowledge with the college students and home carers, attended classes with the students, assisting them with their literacy skills and cooked up a BBQ of marinated buffalo skewers and pepper crust steaks (you can get their recipes here).. We put together a clip of their time at the Tiwi Islands Project –  thanks to all of the students and the Tiwi Islands Community along with the Hayden Reynolds Tiwi College Project for welcoming and hosting us!

Heading back on our tiny plane we asked Aaron about his experiences at the Tiwi College Project and some background into the project.

What is the Tiwi College Project and what do you think they’re trying to achieve?

The college is trying to improve the lifestyles of the Tiwi people by providing the Life Skills program, where the kids are taught to cook, clean and respect the other people around them. These skills can then be taken back into the communities to help lifestyles of those back home.

The college is trying to create job opportunities for the kids once they graduate from the college. Some of the kids are going into apprenticeships at the college in the garden program and going to the fishing lodges to work as guides on the fishing charters.

Why did you want to go to the Tiwi College Project?

Going to the Tiwi Islands and visiting the Tiwi College Project was such a great opportunity for me. I wanted to see what the project was about, how the college operated, and how the kids lived their day-to-day lives. Also being able to give back to the community by sharing my cooking skills and recipes was an experience I couldn’t say no to.

How as a chef do you think you can help implement change to help young kids in the Tiwi community?

As a chef I think it is important to teach the kids in the Tiwi community about different foods and give them a better knowledge base of foods they can cook. After talking to the kids, food is a big part of their culture as it brings the families and communities together. I hope that by teaching them some new techniques and sharing some new recipes it can help them to make healthier choices along the way.

What did you learn about the Tiwi community at the college?

I learnt how much knowledge the Tiwi people have of the land they live on. They know how and when the best time to hunt is; where to find the best catch and the best ways to track and capture the animal. And the ways they fish to catch turtle, stingray and dugong in the most successful way. They were also able to explain which trees can be used for medicine if sick and which trees can help to cook their food.

What was the highlight of the trip?

The highlight of the trip for me would have to be working with the kids in class and cooking for them.

We had the opportunity to sit in on a reading class and help the kids practice their reading skills. To see the joy on their faces when they accomplished reading a book with no help was amazing.

On the final morning at Tiwi College Project we cooked breakfast at one of the homes. It was a privilege to cook for the 13 girls and their house carers. We received plenty of thank you letters from the girls so I’m pretty sure they enjoyed it

What have you learnt from this experience?

Before going to the Tiwi Islands I didn’t really know much about the project. Having experienced first-hand what the project is trying to achieve it is a great initiative to help the kids of the island improve the way they live and help them with their life skills in the future.

What have you taken away from the visit?

This was a great experience for me and one I will not forget. Working with the children, the families and the dedicated staff that make it all happen is truly inspirational. Giving something back by cooking food for the homes and helping the kids with their reading and literature was a great experience.

recipes: tiwi college project by aaron ward and troy crisante

During their time on the island, young chefs Aaron Ward & Troy Crisante cooked some of their secret recipes for the Tiwi College Project, and shared these recipes along with some of their chef’s secrets with the college. The marinades are perfect for a BBQ at home.

Buffalo Marinade by Troy Crisante

Prep time: 20 mins + time for marinating

Serves: up to 1kg of buffalo meat


100ml honey

250ml soy sauce

50ml oyster sauce

2 x oranges (zest & juiced)

4 x cloves garlic

1 x knob garlic (medium size)

1/2 bunch coriander – leaves and stem

2 tbsp sesame seeds


Mince garlic and ginger and then wash & chop coriander stems included.

Zest the orange into 1 cm strips then juice. Mix all ingredients into a bowl and whisk.

Place your meat in the marinade and marinate for a minimum of 4 hours.

Chef’s Tips:

Can be used for lamb and beef also.

Using orange in your marinade is great for those tougher cuts of meat as it helps with the breakdown of the meat, leaving it nice and tender after marinating overnight.

Marinate overnight for the best result!

Pepper Steak Crust by Aaron Ward

Prep time: 20 minutes + marinating time

Serves: 14 x steaks


3tsp ground pepper

2tsp garlic minced

1tsp salt

1 x lemon (zest)

½ cup veg oil


Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl & place meat in bowl.

Massage rub mix into sides of meat and cover.

Refrigerate for 4 hours before cooking or leave overnight and cook the next day!

Chef’s Tips:

Marinate overnight for the best result!

Can also be used with chicken lamb, buffalo and pork!




what does hospitality mean to Peter Doyle?

by Dominic Rolfe

What does the word hospitality mean to you and how has it changed since you started?

Hospitality is about maintaining standards and providing a place where customers enjoy themselves surrounded by pleasant experiences – food, wine and service, atmosphere, the whole experience.

Hospitality is always evolving and that keeps it interesting.  Keeping up the pace, keeping up to date with what’s going on demands a lot of people in the industry. But so does maintaining standards. You might have bistro French cuisine that has pretty much stayed the same for decades but it takes a lot of effort to keep the standard of that food at a high level.

Did you have a mentor?

Not really. I started cooking in the dark ages in Australia, when nothing had changed in a long time. It’s hard to explain now but back then there was little focus on produce and everyone was cooking the same menu items. Then, at the end of my apprenticeship, the nouvelle cuisine era arrived, ushering in a whole new world of cuisine which has remained exciting ever since. This movement also allowed other cuisines like Italian and Asian to bloom.

In the early days, I worked with a few good chefs that drilled into you that you needed to work fast, you needed to work hard and you had to absorb all the basics of cooking. But once you’d done that, for that new era you had to be searching out new ideas yourself.

There was a sort of good side to not having a mentor. No-one told you how to make all the basics such as puff pastry. While it takes much longer to learn by yourself, once you learn from scratch, it’s in there forever.

What was the goal when you opened and is it different now?

When I started out, I had no real idea. But I did know that I wanted to have a restaurant one day and express what I liked to cook and what was up to date, not just another plate of Oysters Kilpatrick. It was a lot easier back then to start out without making a huge capital investment like today. It was exciting, all-consuming and draining at the same time.

Do you have a piece of advice for current chefs starting out? Did you have a piece of advice that you’ve carried through?

I probably should have looked more at the business. Because you’re a chef, you’re focussing on the food and restaurant rather than the business. And in the end, it all comes down to business. Today, what I’d say to young chefs and restaurateurs starting out is “Remember, at the end of the day, it’s a business.”

It’s also really important that you have a work/life balance. The hospitality industry has long, anti-social hours and if you enjoy that aspect of it, that’s fine. But it does get draining so people need to find a life balance. Don’t overdo it because people get consumed by it. People think it’s a badge of honour to say you’ve worked 80 or 90 hours a week but you have to have a life as well. It’s important for the whole industry because you don’t want a lot of good people burning out and leaving the industry.



the insider’s guide to eating/drinking in the yarra valley with kelvin shaw

Ever wondered where those in the biz head to for great eating/drinking? We’re often asked so we headed to our #youngexcellence for the lowdown and the insider’s guide to eating/drinking around the Yarra Valley with chef/owner of Altair Restaurant Kelvin Shaw.

Where do you go for coffee before work/after work/not at work?

If it’s a work day Round Bird Can’t Fly in Lilydale is definitely my favourite coffee stop, it’s a great spot to grab a bite as well. If it’s a day off I don’t mind travelling for coffee and you can’t beat One Origin on Glenferrie Road in Malvern, Alan Chan makes arguably the best coffee in Melbourne, his blends and attention to detail is second to none.

Favourite places for breakfast and brunch?

After a long week I love a lazy late morning breakfast, locally my favourites are Little Drop of Poison in Eltham, a small café with amazing character. The food packs a punch with big flavours and their list of craft beers and natural wine is brilliant. Leaf & Vine in Ringwood, is another local favourite, hidden away but always bustling with people, Pete & Bec have created something very special. If on a brunch road trip I’m forever trying to find an excuse to get to Spotswood and The Duchess of Spotswood Cafe, ‘Pork Jowl, Truffle & Eggs’ need I say more?

Favourite restaurants in your home state for special occasions?

Living just outside of Melbourne I am absolutely spoilt for choice, Amaru in Northcote has become a favourite there approach to using native ingredients is fascinating and flavour combinations are brilliant. IDES in Collingwood is another that offers something totally innovative an amazing culinary adventure, Peter Gunn really provides something special.

Best bars to head to after work and on your days off?

For after work drinks it’s hard to beat Siglo Bar the wine list is amazing and the view from the roof sensational, Siglo has an amazing vibe and is open to late. Other city favourites include Whisky & Alement and Bar Americano both provide high standard drinks and service and unbeatable atmospheres. Go Go Bar is another of Melbourne’s late night watering holes and with food offerings from Chin Chin’s bar menu available it’s hard to resist.

Where do you go for fresh, seasonal produce and market bargains?

I love a trip to Springvale for the fresh produce on offer is always amazing and with such a range of South East Asian ingredients every trip is a learning experience. The Queen Vic Markets is another favourite spot, whether it be meat, seafood, fruit & veg or smallgoods, there is always so much to explore not to forget a quick stop into books for cooks on the way home. Since its new facelift the Warrandyte Riverside Market held the 1st Saturday of the month has some great produce offerings on hand and on the banks of the Yarra River it is hard to pass up.

Where have you had the best interstate dining experiences?

The Sydney dining scene has provided many memorable meals The Bentley Bar & Monopole are personal favourites, Brent Savage has a unique style that continuously leaves you craving your next visit. While in Tasmania, Stillwater in Launceston has such a well-rounded setup amazing food, service and atmosphere, a truly memorable dining experience. And on our many trips to the Barossa we can’t visit without stopping into Appellation at the Louise.