Rocky woman cooks up a storm with top chefs from the UK
WHEN Natalie Edwards landed a part-time job in a restaurant kitchen as a teenager, she never expected to unleash a passion for food that would take her halfway across the world.
The 20-year-old Rockhampton woman has spent the past 18 months rubbing shoulders with some of the best chefs in the industry as she cooks up a storm across the UK.
Ms Edwards said a job which began as a path to independence, quickly escalated into a career.
"I starting working at Hog's Breath Cafe just being a kitchen hand and that turned into a school-based apprentice at 15 and then leaving school to become a full-time apprentice at 16," she said.
"I knew I wanted to work as I had a great work ethic and cheffing basically grabbed me and I took it.
"After working at Hog's Breath for just over three years, I was then a second-year apprentice and moved on to Pacinos Italian Restaurant and completed my apprenticeship in September 2013."
When the opportunity to test her culinary skills in the UK arose, Ms Edwards jumped at the chance.
"I moved to England in January 2014 because my boyfriend at the time wanted to come to the UK," she said.
"I knew over here there was such a fantastic culinary world, where food is apprenticed and there is so much talent.
"It wasn't hard getting work over here; being an Australian chef I can bring new ideas to the table.
"I started working in Manchester, in a casual restaurant, then I took my career further moving up to the Lake District and working in a two AA-rosette hotel and spa.
"Now I'm in Knutsford, which is an affluent town in Cheshire and I work in a restaurant which has just been awarded two AA Rosettes. It is the first establishment in Knutsford to receive any rosettes so it's a big deal."
Ms Edwards faced her most recent career challenge when she spent the week cooking alongside internationally renowned UK Michelin Star chef Aiden Byrne at his Manchester House restaurant last week.
"A few months back I went to Manchester House for a celebration dinner, and after that I knew I would love to work in that kitchen, just to see it all unfold," she said.
"My current head chef is close friends with Aiden and he arranged for it to happen.
"It was exciting to work with an experienced and passionate group of chefs.
"There is a massive team over there, all of which will be amazing chefs.
"I wanted to gain skills to take back to my kitchen.
"I'm a junior sous chef in Knutsford, but worked in a few different sections at Manchester House."
When she was not busy furthering her career in the kitchen, Ms Edwards said she made the most of her location.
"I just like to explore and go sightseeing, eat in beautiful restaurants and cafes; just sit in a cafe and read a book while just relaxing; just totally relax, and go on tour buses and do the typical tourist stuff," she said.
"So far I have already been to five countries in Europe and I have a month of travel in September in Europe on a bus trip."
Ms Edwards said she just wanted to keep cooking and learning.
"Whether I want to stay here in the UK or if I want to become something big back in Australia if I go back one day, I'm still not 100% sure," she said.
"I have an apprentice so already I am teaching someone. I just want to keep learning and show others what I have learnt."