Salute to our top tourism and hospitality students

STUDENTS from Townsville’s Kirwan State High School, Logan’s Canterbury College and Albany Creek State High School have taken out the cookery, food and beverage and tourism honours at the 2017 Salute to Excellence Awards.

Hosted by the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, QTIC Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind said the Salute to Excellence Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of Year 11 and 12 students from Queensland’s secondary schools studying tourism and hospitality.

The winners took out the awards from a group of 24 finalists from across the state including Brisbane, Gold Coast, Logan, Sunshine Coast, Rockhampton, Townsville and Charleville.  

“The awards are an important link to the tourism and hospitality industry and this year’s finalists were an outstanding and knowledgeable group,” Mr Gschwind said.

Winners of the 2017 Salute to Excellence Awards:

  • Cookery category – Jessica Lord from Canterbury College
  • Food and Beverage category – Alyse Parsons from Kirwan State High
  • Tourism category – Breeanna Gibb from Albany Creek State High

Runners-Up of the 2017 Salute to Excellence Awards:

  • Cookery category – Ellie-Rose Priest from Canterbury College
  • Food and Beverage category – James Barker from Marist College Ashgrove
  • Food and Beverage category – Lily Bradshaw-Clough from St Columban’s College
  • Tourism category – Ebony Blundell from Albany Creek State High

Mr Gschwind said QTIC’s Salute to Excellence was an important program for promoting the many career opportunities on offer in our industry.

“Over the years we have seen past participants go on to further their studies and build successful careers from hotel managers and chefs to travel and event managers.”

“There has never been a more exciting time to consider a career in tourism with an incredible pipeline of tourism projects across the state and billions being spent building a future for tourism – there is also a significant skill shortage across some areas in our industry, including cookery.”

“We congratulate the finalists of the 2017 Salute to Excellence Awards and wish all the students an exciting and rewarding career in their chosen field.”

The 2017 QTIC Salute to Excellence Awards was proudly sponsored by TAFE Queensland, Accor Hotels, Hostplus, the Queensland Government, Emporium Hotel, Job Skills Queensland and Busy at Work.

Judges of the 2017 awards were Richard Robinson (UQ), Michael Augustin (The Star Entertainment Group), Sean Collins (Novotel), Martin Macinnes (TAFE Queensland), Dale Kronk (Emporium Hotel), Tahlia Roberts (Riverlife) and Sean Langford (Kingfisher Bay Resort). 

2017 Salute to Excellence Awards Finalists


Food and Beverage


  • Benjamin Glutz Helensvale State High
  • Ellie-Rose Priest – Canterbury College
  • Emma Wilson – North Lakes State College
  • Jade Field – Kirwan State High
  • Jenna Sundstrom – Helensvale State High
  • Jessica Lord  – Canterbury College
  • Keeleigh Roberts  - Corinda State High
  • Oskar Robinson – Nambour Christian College
  • Tenille Hutchins  – North Rockhampton High
  • Alyse Parsons – Kirwan State High
  • Edan Corner-Evans – Upper Coomera College
  • Genevieve Chamberlin – Genesis Christian College
  • James Barker – Marist College Ashgrove
  • Jarrah Lloyd – St Columban’s College
  • Kayleigh Bull – Kirwan State High
  • Libby Usher – Charleville State High
  • Lily Bradshaw-Clough – St Columban’s College
  • Thomas Keegan – Helensvale State High
  • Tiarna Eldridge – Upper Coomera College
  • Toni Kendall – Coolum State High
  • Breeanna Gibb – Albany Creek High
  • Ebony Blundell – Albany Creek High
  • Emil Jorgensen – Coolum State High
  • Kelsey Hayes – Coolum State High


Salute to Excellence Awards – what’s involved?

Following a written nomination process, a short-listed group of students were invited to take part in a skills test day at TAFE Queensland in June where the students competed in one of three categories – cookery, food and beverage or tourism.

The students were tested and mentored by industry leaders including head chefs from leading hotels such as Novotel and Emporium and Managers of award-winning tourism businesses such as Riverlife and Kingfisher Bay Resort.

All finalists were presented with a certificate of achievement at the Salute to Excellence Awards Dinner where the finalists, winners and runners-up for each category are also announced. 

20 year history of Salute to Excellence

In 1995 Brian Pozzey (restaurateur and managing director of CookChill Corporation) returned from his daughter’s graduation at Cornell University where they had a salute to all graduates. It was thought a similar event could take place to acknowledge high achievers who were undertaking vocational programs in hospitality and tourism. For the first two years it was in the format of a simple afternoon ceremony with nominees from Brisbane and the Gold Coast receiving a certificate.

In 1997 the committee of Tourism Training Australia, which became Tourism Training Queensland (TTQ) decided to have a more upmarket event to showcase the skills of the industry at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, which at the time provided full silver service. It was then that the Salute to Excellence in its current format was born. The award winners won scholarships to complete diplomas or apprenticeships.

In 2003 TTQ industry representatives headed up the Industry Training Advisory Board (ITAB) for the tourism and hospitality industry and a decision was made to turn the event into a state-wide campaign, as by this time the event had gained status and had become a prestigious award. It was at this point that skills’ testing was introduced and the current format was adopted. In 2005 the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) officially took on the ITAB role and became host of the Salute to Excellence Awards as they are known today.