Since 2005 TSS have been placing chefs into kitchens all across the country. Our ability to successfully navigate our way through a process that is not an exact science is what sets us apart.
What has become clear from the hundreds of success stories we can proudly attest to is that every narrative from our candidates and clients is inherently different despite each one sharing potentially identical outcomes.
One of our most loyal and high-profile clients is The Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld. Six months ago, Vietnamese-born chef, Luan arrived in Australia to take up residence as a Chef de Partie in a kitchen boasting 2 Age Good Food Guide Chef Hats in 2015, 16 and 17.
Coming to Australia and adapting to a new way of life and working environment while leaving a family behind is tough enough but stepping into one of Victoria’s most famous fine dining kitchens only adds to the pressure.
I recently visited the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld to catch up with Luan and Human Resources Manager Kendel Van Workum. They were kind enough to take time out of their busy schedules to tell their story.
Luan developed a passion for his craft at a young age. And like many of the world’s best chefs knew early that he would spend the rest of his working life in kitchens.
“Growing up in Vietnam I always wanted to cook. I started cooking in high school when I was 16 years old and I just loved it” says Luan.
For the best part of a decade, Luan trained and worked in kitchens with some of the best chefs in South East Asia culminating in a Chef de Partie role at the 5 star Intercontinental Hotel in Saigon. It was there he decided to start making his lifelong dream of working in Australia a reality.
“I knew then that I would be cooking for the rest of my life so as soon as I got the opportunity to take it further and cook in Australia, I did everything I had to do to make sure I got where I wanted to go” he explained.
For Luan, things happened quickly. After Kendel and Executive Chef Robin Wickens read his resume and interviewed him, the offer of sponsorship was immediate. Luan succeeded where many others before him had failed as he offered not only the training and employment background sought by this renowned fine dining room but a passion and dedication many chefs conveniently manufacture.
It was at this stage that for Luan the reality of a new life in Australia was hitting home. The nerves and anxiety were just as real.
“I was very nervous but I did my research online about working and living here which taught me how to adapt”.
While Luan was starting to feeling the pressure Kendel and Robin were just anxious. This was the Royal Mail’s first foray into 457 visa sponsorship and they were suddenly faced with problems they had never encountered before.
The pressure on HR in regional areas is often far greater than in major city centres that are generally afforded the luxury of larger candidate pools. It is for this reason that mistakes in regional areas are significantly magnified, so for Kendel and the Royal Mail, success was the only option.
“There is a shortage of chefs and that is growing worse all the time. The role Luan does is one that is incredibly hard to find especially in regional areas”.
Having some experience with other hospitality recruitment agencies, Kendel was particularly apprehensive at first to consider recruiting offshore. “You get a resume, the candidate gets a brief, they come out here and quite often the brief is not as accurate as I would like it to have been”.
“With TSS they do an enormous amount of work in terms of finding the type of candidate you are looking for as well as support through the visa process that can be very lengthy and difficult. They made the difficult seem incredibly easy”.
Countless attempts had been made to fill the position Luan now holds but the success that had eluded them time and again is now is a distant memory.
“Luan has provided not only knowledge and experience but an incredible commitment to doing it and making it a success. We had tried plenty of times and failed but having Luan there has made all the difference” says Kendel.
Success is not measured from the perspective of a candidate. Sponsorship is a two-way street and without a committed and supportive employer, candidate quality can at times be meaningless. From the moment Luan arrived in Australia, The Royal Mail welcomed him with open arms providing all the assistance he needed to make a difficult transition easier.
“I was picked up from the airport and Kendel helped me with a tour of Dunkeld and Hamilton. She helped me with getting my first sim card, opening my bank account and tax file number. Chef Robin helped a lot too. They have looked after me very well”.
Despite the commitment he has to his new role, Luan has begun to enjoy our local culture on his days off, travelling to Melbourne and Adelaide to experience the good food and city atmosphere.
After such a long journey it is incredibly satisfying to hear that Luan is happy in his new position and comfortable in the country he now calls home.
“It is a country I can bring my family to and be looked after and feel safe,” he explains. “I have a young daughter who will be looked after here and get a good education. There are very good schools in Australia and will give my daughter a good life”.
After 6 months separated from his wife and daughter, Luan counts the days until they join him to see in the New Year.
“My wife and daughter are arriving in December just after Christmas. I miss them and I can’t wait to see them. By then it will be almost a year since I saw them. Then we can all be together again. Our life will be here now and it’s very exciting.”
The 457 program can be an overwhelming and daunting experience but with the combination of a passionate candidate and supportive employer, success is just around the corner.
The Royal Mail will never close the door on local recruitment but move forward with a fresh perspective on what recruitment success really looks like.
Starting a new life in a foreign country can be hard for anyone, but with the support of Kendel, the Royal Mail and the community of Dunkeld, Luan and his family are well on the way to a happy future living and working in Australia.