From CCA’s Culinary School to the International Kitchen: A Chat with Chef Rochelle Uy-Rylewski, Sous Chef at Pullman Cairns International.
After graduating from CCA Manila, Chef Rochelle Uy-Rylewski now serves as the Sous Chef at Pullman Cairns International. She has an inspiring culinary journey of resilience, dedication, and a thirst for learning. We recently had the pleasure of talking to her about her experience, passion, and the lessons she’s learned along the way.
Chef Rochelle, tell us about the recent changes at Pullman, Cairns.
After a hiatus due to COVID, Pullman Cairns International has just launched a new menu. It’s a delightful blend of cuisines, but our seafood collection stands out the most. We also offer a range of vegetarian and vegan dishes to cater to the evolving palates of our guests. Our unique offering is our high tea, something hard to find in Cairns.
How did your culinary arts journey take you from CCA to Australia?
CCA laid the foundation. Days after graduating, I flew to the U.S. for an internship, thanks to CCA’s network. Though offered to stay in New York, I returned to the Philippines. Later, an email about Australian sponsorships led me to a job which set the path for my 10-year stay here.
For those looking to work in Australia, what should they be prepared for?
Firstly, introspect if you’re ready to leave your comfort zone. Then, find a trustworthy agency. Budgeting is essential. You must pass IELTS, have a strong CV, and seek places open to interns or trainees. The application process is majorly online.
Can you share the costs involved?
About a decade ago, it cost me around 7,500 Australian dollars, including agency fees for visa processing. But remember, it’s an investment with a long-term return.
Walk us through a day in your life.
Being a chef isn’t just about cooking. My day involves paperwork, managing functions, ordering supplies, and occasionally helping on the pass. It’s about multitasking and ensuring everything runs smoothly.
Your experience at Pullman?
Pullman has opened many doors for me. Especially when you have a supportive boss, you’re encouraged to unleash your potential and grow in every aspect.
I also owe a lot to my experience in Shangri-La, Cairns. I learned a lot there, starting as a demi chef and then going up to chef de partie by the end.
How did CCA prepare you for this journey?
CCA’s two-year diploma program (Diploma in Culinary Arts & Technology Management) equipped me with skills and opportunities like the U.S. internship. Being a CCA alum was an added advantage when applying for roles in Australia.
Any advice for budding chefs?
Hard work is key. It might take years to reach where you aim to be, but cherish every learning opportunity. Prioritize a good character and personality over skills, because skills can be taught.
How do you negotiate your salary?
When negotiating, keep in mind the cost of living. Initially, you might be overwhelmed by a different currency, but remember to consider all expenses like rent and utilities.
Follow Chef Rochelle’s culinary journey through Instagram. If you’d like to fulfill your culinary dream or know more about the program Chef Rochelle graduated from, contact us at email@example.com.