Biratnagar, 400 kms east of Kathmandu, is the industrial capital of Nepal and the town where Chef Navraj Khadka grew up.
Under the tutelage of his working mother, Navraj started cooking at 13. The responsibility of putting food on the table was shared by the family but for Navraj it was not just essential for survival. This would become his passion and career choice.
It would provide an opportunity to not only grow as a cook but to develop a sustainable career, helping to support his family in Nepal.
“My mum taught me to cook when I was 13 because she went to work. It soon became not just a necessity but something I really loved” says Navraj.
“Making food that made others smile was what it was all about for me. It’s an amazing feeling to see others enjoying your food”
By the age of 21, Navraj had left home and was working as a Chef in the UAE honing his skills and progressing through the ranks from Commis to Sous Chef in 5 star resorts. But life in the UAE took its toll. While his job there served its purpose, it was not going to provide the long-term future Navraj was after for his family.
Australia was another story.
“I wanted to come to Australia because of its people, climate, culture and the amazing scenery. The UAE is great to establish your career but it’s not a family place like Australia is” says Navraj.
“I did a lot of research and found TSS. They seemed more professional than the other companies. They paid me attention, listened to exactly what I was after and actually cared”.
“I will be forever grateful for the interest TSS showed in my career especially Jonathan. He was knowledgeable, professional and never lost sight of my expectations”.
But coming to Australia on an employer sponsored visa and making it work is not a given. Experience, professionalism and work ethic will only take a chef so far.
For Danny Zernich, General Manager at the Clifton Springs Golf Club in Victoria, the process of hiring an unseen chef was unsettling at first. The quick turnaround from learning about the 457 visa and skilled migration to having a new chef on the way was certainly not what he expected.
“I was apprehensive before embarking on this process as this was our first overseas hire but it was actually much easier than I was expecting” Danny says.
“TSS guided me every step of the way and were always there to offer support. Most importantly though they were trustworthy and professional. They made me feel very much at ease”.
The 12 months since Navraj arrived has flown by, with the daunting adjustment period now a thing of the past.
“Danny’s support for me and my wife made things so easy. He and my work colleagues really welcomed us and prepared everything. We will never forget what they did for us” says Navraj.
For Danny, life at Clifton Springs from the moment Navraj arrived has never been better.
“From the first day, Navraj looked like a superstar. His uniform and presentation was immaculate. He hit the ground running and within six months could run the venue himself” says a very happy Danny.
One suspects this won’t be the last time Clifton Springs Golf Club seeks an overseas chef.
“We all know the hardships facing the industry and these overseas chefs possess the experience required and work ethic to match which is sadly lost in Australia”
“We will have no hesitation at all in doing this again”