Head of Birrgal – Hospitality Academy of Excellence

Athol Wark

"It puts me in a position to make a formal difference with training and assessing in our industry, I have an opportunity to make real change. "


Succeeding in the fast-paced world of culinary arts can be quite a challenge. Enthusiastic young chefs need a number of traits and skills, consistency, determination, and a strong foundation to name a few. A fact that Executive Chef and now certified VET Trainer and Assessor, Athol Wark, knows all too well. Athol’s journey with Plenty Training began with a simple yet powerful motivation: to give back to the industry that had given him so much. Driven by a passion for teaching other chefs, apprentices, culinary enthusiasts and anyone else eager to learn about the industry, Athol embarked on his TAE learning journey in May of 2023.

Winning  the inaugural scholarship from the ‘Australian Institute of TechnicalChefs’, funded by Humpty Doo Barramundi in 2022, Athol quickly realised the impact that this award would have on him, as its first recipient. This support, whilst easing the financial burden, added a certain level of pressure to successfully complete the course.

Prior to completing his studies, Athol applied for a role with Djarragun as the Head of Birrgal – Hospitality Academy of Excellence and was successful in his application. The offer came with the provision that he attains a Certificate IV in Training & Assessment and his QLD ‘Working with Children Clearance” (Blue Card). Determined, Athol set himself a deadline and worked diligently to complete his studies.

His learning journey would not come without its hurdles. From the comprehensive nature of the course, to personal struggles, Athol faced challenges along the way that started to cause doubt. Backed by a strong support network, including his wife, family and friends, and a firm belief in his own abilities, Athol continued to push forward. Reaching out to Plenty’s team of trainers and staff would serve as the turning point in Athol’s learning journey. Through feedback and discussions with the Plenty Team, the weight began to lift and Athol felt comfortable seeking advice on where to locate resources and the tools he would need going forward, “It was very touch and go for a while but my wife – Catie, along with David, Tom and Kenny [Plenty Trainers] pulled me through to succeed in the end.”

Plenty Training proved to be the perfect partner in Athol’s quest. Through rigorous yet realistic training, Athol was equipped with the tools and knowledge needed to excel in his new role. The course provided a solid foundation, covering essential aspects such as using nationally recognised training products, integrating core skills support, and working effectively within compliance frameworks.

On the 11th of March 2024 Athol obtained his formal TAE qualification and a week later, on the 18th of March, Athol commenced his new role with Djarragun as the Head of Birrgal – Hospitality Academy of Excellence. Proud of what he was able to accomplish, Athol is not shy in crediting his achievements to his support network, “I would have been unable to complete this course without the scholarship from the Australian Institute of TechnicalChefs and Humpty Doo Barramundi along with the support of trainers, friends, and family and for that I am truly grateful”.

Athol’s journey is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, support. He now mentors the next generation of aspiring chefs as they begin their own learning journey.

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