The Queensland Tourism Industry Council’s (QTIC) ‘Salute to Excellence Awards’ is just about to wrap up for another year with the winners being announced on 29 July.
This year’s program produced another group of motivated, aspiring professionals putting the spotlight on the importance of vocational education and training in secondary schools across the state.
The event fosters the next generation of leaders in the tourism and hospitality industry and is a fantastic stepping-stone for students to progress in their career.
Cookery student from Marist College in Emerald, Johnel Ross P. Dapat, competed in the assessment process and recaps his experience.
“The event was exhilarating! It was my first competition in cookery. This was my chance to gauge my capacity compared to other students who, like me, are cooking enthusiasts. Aside from my personal goal, I wanted to do my school proud to show everyone that despite being in the regional area, we can also excel given the right access to opportunities,” said Mr Dapat.
For the three categories; Cookery, Food and Beverage and Tourism, QTIC sourced some of the best professional in the industry, judges were; Dustin Osuch from The Star Gold Coast, Josh Lawson from Hospitality Staffing Solutions, Karen Thornburn from Dreamworld, Karen Hellsten from Mountain Wine Tours, Adrienne Putelli from Hilton Hotel Brisbane and Kevin Puglisevich from Rydges South Bank.
Judge Kevin Puglisevich said, “Initially the opportunity to be a judge was presented to me via Rydges Hotel. I have always had a passion for teaching and have wished to contribute to the development of the hospitality industry.
“Leading up to the event I found it exciting and energetic, especially working with Adrienne Putelli who I got to learn a great deal from. On the actual day of the event, I found it inspiring. I had forgotten what it was like to be that young and new to the industry. The event was well organised and had a great sense of energy which is what we experience most days in our field of work”.
Judge for the second year for Tourism, Karen Hellsten comments on the significance of an event like this.
“I feel this event is extremely important as it can help young students further develop and gain insight and direction into the tourism industry. It is not only great for students but businesses as they can be a part of the student’s educational journey and help form the foundations for their future career.
“I encourage all students who are studying tourism to be involved with Salute to Excellence as you can bring new perspectives, skill, talent and enthusiasm to the industry. Students also have the opportunity to create long-term relationships with businesses and industry bodies,” said Ms Hellsten.
An event like this wouldn’t be possible without supportive industry sponsors; Riverlife, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Black and White Cabs, Institute of Culinary Excellence, Rydges, Fun over Fifty, Surf Connect, Tourism and Events Queensland and the Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development.
Mark Wayper, Digital Marketing Manager at Novotel said, “Being an active player in the hospitality industry, we are passionate about encouraging the next generation and helping to instil in them a passion for our industry. This investment in the future generation ensures our industry will continue to thrive even in periods of adversity.
“It is amazing to be able to see so many people come together in the same space, fuelled by a passion for creating sublime guest experiences. It is an opportunity to be proud of everything we have achieved to date and everything we will achieve moving forward”.
Although this year’s program is coming to an end, we encourage students, business and industry professional to keep an eye out for next year’s edition.
Mr Dapat concludes, “If you’re passionate about something, don’t hesitate to do it. Joining a competition like this is a way to enhance your interest. This is a gateway into opportunities to develop your love for food, making better meals, and sharing your dishes through your service in the industry”.
The Salute to Excellence Awards Dinner will be held on Monday 29 July where winners and runners’ ups will be announced, one from each category; Cookery, Food and Beverage and Tourism.