CLUNES woman Jane Clarke was named Apprentice of the Year for the Hepburn Shire at an Australia Day ceremony.
The 54-year-old has been working as an apprentice at Mercato @ Daylesford restaurant since September last year.
Ms Clarke said when she was presented with the award she thought it was a practical joke.
“I thought it was a prank,” she said.
Ms Clarke said she has always had a passion for food and thought beginning an apprenticeship would provide her with more experience in the industry.
She said she had owned and run her own cafe in the past but felt there was more she could learn.
“I wanted a sense of completion,” she said.
“I saw an ad in the newspaper where the restaurant was looking for a cook or a chef.
“The chef Richard Mee took a punt and it has been fantastic.
“The team have a great attitude about food and they have let me design some of the vegetarian menus.”
Ms Clarke said without the ongoing support of Richard she wouldn’t have realised that being involved with cooking was her dream.
She admitted that with every job there had been ups and downs, however said she had already learnt a lot about food.
“It has been good,” she said. “The team at the restaurant is great; they are not ageist at all.”
Ms Clarke said although she began the apprenticeship later in life, it wasn’t unusual for her family to work well into their 70s.
“I started the apprenticeship when I was 53-years-old, which meant I had a further 18-odd years of work ahead of me,” she said.
“I thought I could do more with my life, which is why I decided to become an apprentice.”
Ms Clarke said it was hard to juggle her work and personal life with a child.
“I work five days a week but it goes to show that at any age you can do whatever you put your mind to,” she said.
“I would like to let women in particular know that if you want to do something different, you can do it.”
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