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A Culinary Career Like No Other

When Di pops her head into the kitchen of a local eatery to say G’day there’s a good chance she trained at least one of the chefs and is known for giving them a fright: 

“I’ve seen them fling a tea towel straight off their shoulder when they see me or kick off their shoes because they’re unpolished – these were always big no no’s in my kitchen.”  

“I used to always say; I don’t want your hair follicles in my dinner!” She laughed. 

Di was the Senior Head Teacher of Tourism and Hospitality at Nowra and Ulladulla TAFE Campus’ for 36 years. Her passion for the industry is well known on the South Coast and she is famous for the way she continues to dedicate her life to it – even in ‘retirement’. 

20 years ago, Di created the Huskisson Food & Wine Festival with market stalls, masterclasses and so much more. It showcased the region as a food and wine destination and paved the way for something extraordinary: 

“Out of that formed the Jervis Bay Food Network, and we got people in the industry talking to one another and working together to showcase what everyone did best.” 

“After COVID when the industry was really hurting, people urged me to make the network bigger and so the Shoalhaven Food Network was formed”. 

Three years later SFN is not only an important voice for the industry in terms of advocacy to all levels of Government – it is also strengthening partnerships on a bigger scale: 

“This year, our Autumn Celebration of Food will include over 60 events across the Shoalhaven and the theme is ‘collaboration’.” 

“We have so many incredible chefs jumping at the opportunity to work together and create a spectacular experience,” she added. 

Di isn’t stopping there she is busy creating an exciting new venture behind the scenes that will bring metro-based foodies to the Shoalhaven for a gourmet gastronomical getaway that is sure to delight. 

She reflects fondly on her career: 

“I’m so proud of the young people I worked with at TAFE and of the annual celebrity chef events we ran that opened doors for them.” 

“Many have worked in the finest restaurants all over the world and they’ve come home, which is wonderful.” 

“One of my former students Sam Smith worked for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and when asked by students at a recent ‘Gaining through Training’ program what the strangest thing he’s ever cooked is he said, ‘a whole camel!’ 

“He’s now at Ponte Bar and Dining in Nowra and I just love seeing how far he has come.” Di added. 

If you’re a regional career builder interested in the tourism/hospitality industry or looking to enjoy the finest food the Shoalhaven has to offer and meet some fellow foodies as part of the Autumn Celebration of Food, visit: https://thinkregional.com.au/events/shoalhaven-food-networks-autumn-celebration-of-food/ 

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