Jia-Shian Chen (Josh) moved to Australia from Taiwan to pursue his passion for hospitality.
Since completing a SIT50416 Diploma of Hospitality Management with TAFE International Western Australia (TIWA) in 2016, Josh has worked in some of Perth’s best restaurants and made a great life for himself and his family in Western Australia (WA).
We spoke to Josh about his decision to go into the hospitality industry, his experience studying at TIWA and what it’s like living in Perth.
Australia’s renowned food scene was what inspired Josh to pursue a career in the country’s hospitality industry.
“No one can deny that Australia is one of the best food and beverage destinations in the world,” he says. “The country’s diverse culture has created a unique combination of culinary styles, letting Australia always stand out as an innovator in the hospitality industry.
“Australia’s world-class products have also made it easy for the hospitality industry to access the best produce. Therefore, I decided to study hospitality and work as a chef, to advance my profession and be connected with these beautiful local farmers and producers.”
Josh decided to pursue this passion in Perth, WA where he enrolled in a hospitality course with TIWA.
“Since the first day I arrived in Perth, I have been inspired by the beautiful weather, amazing and diverse people, and the incredible lifestyle,” he says. “Studying hospitality meant that I could pursue my passion and use my qualification as a skill to stay in this beautiful place.”
Studying at TAFE
According to Josh, his studies at TAFE prepared him for his future career in WA’s hospitality industry.
“Studying at TAFE is a great life experience in lots of different ways. In a practical sense, you are learning from the best and get to really equip yourself for any future challenges,” he says. “There are also great opportunities in WA – not only for the work but also the lifestyle and the affordability.”
Josh’s experiences at TAFE didn’t only shape his professional life but his personal life as well.
“I will always miss those days that we went fishing on the jetty, had road trips out in nature and late suppers in the city – all these new experiences added to my studying journey in WA,” he says. “I even met my wife at TAFE and we have two little ones now.”
While studying hospitality at South Metropolitan TAFE’s Bentley campus, Josh was chosen to represent the college at the 2016 International Colleges Culinary Competition(opens in a new tab). As part of the Australian team, Josh and his teammates were up against students from all around the world, including England, America, New Zealand and Taiwan.
“In the competition, we were required to cook a three-course meal in fine dining style with a minimum of six elements per dish,” he explains. “We had three hours to complete everything, from preparing ingredients to cooking, plating and cleaning.
“Prior to the competition day, we trained for six months, repeatedly practising the skills. With chef Denis Boulet’s mentoring, we secured the gold medal award.”
A career in hospitality
Josh’s hospitality career began while he was still studying at TAFE, with a position at Fraser’s Restaurant(opens in a new tab) in Kings Park. After completing his diploma, Josh was offered work with several different restaurants around Perth. He decided to take up a post at the renowned Petition at Como the Treasury(opens in a new tab).
“I worked at Petition for five and a half years and eventually became head chef there – it’s where I grew and learnt the most,” he says. “After I finished with Petition Kitchen, I had a few project invitations. Last year I was involved in the opening of the iconic WA brewery, Gage Roads(opens in a new tab), and a great neighbourhood-focused French bistro called La Lune(opens in a new tab).”
While Josh is passionate about what he does, he admits it can be challenging at times and aims to create a good working environment for the staff he manages.
“Working in the kitchen is not an easy task. Sweat, long hours, missed time with family, as well as mental and physical stress can all be part of putting out a plate that is beautiful and tasty,” he says. “I try to give my staff the best work-life balance by training them both practically and mentally. I believe that a healthy work culture builds a great business.”
In the future, Josh is hoping to apply this passion to the next generation of chefs and contribute to the local hospitality community.
Life in Perth
Josh and his family love their life in Perth, as well as getting out and enjoying all that WA has to offer.
“Dining outdoors on the restaurant terrace is the best way to enjoy a day with loved ones,” he says. “The beaches on the coast are stunning; I can’t even find which one is better. And don’t forget Rottnest Island, a beautiful place to enjoy bike riding and swimming at the beach.
“When we have long weekends, driving an SUV for a road trip is our way to escape from the city, enjoying the local wines and exploring the nature in the national parks.”
Advice for other international students
Josh has this advice for anyone considering a similar path:
“Consistency is the key to success. A lack of patience won't hold up your passion. Dream big and dream further. Don’t work for money but work for your passion.”
If you’re interested in finding out more, you can contact TIWA for advice(opens in a new tab) on navigating your study and career journey.