As he embarked on his cookery and hospitality studies at TAFE Queensland’s Gold Coast campus, Jiyeong Maeng’s children were also starting their education journey at school. The family moved from Seoul, South Korea, in 2017, having chosen the Gold Coast as their new home. Jiyeong graduated from TAFE in 2019 and now works for one of the Coast’s leading seafood restaurants.

Q. Can you tell us a little about what led to your decision to leave Seoul and study in Australia?

I think Australia has many things to offer, especially the practical education system, which led to me making the decision. The wonderful nature, slow lifestyle and multicultural aspect also attracted me.

Q. What made you decide on TAFE Queensland’s Gold Coast campus?

To be honest, my [migration] agency suggested it to me. But my private search also had the same result. TAFE is one of the most reliable educational institutions in Australia. I was sure that TAFE would give me very valuable and practical skills that would help me to live in Australia.  

Q. Can you give us a quick insight into your TAFE experience?

I completed Certificates III and IV in Commercial Cookery and a Diploma of Hospitality Management at TAFE. All of the courses were definitely useful, well-prepared and practical. I studied both English and cooking diligently by following their curriculums. Making friends was also a good way to learn as quickly as I did. And my work placement at HOTA [Gold Coast’s Home of the Arts] gave me confidence before I started working in a restaurant. TAFE organised the work placement for me and it was a good opportunity to work in a real, operating restaurant.

Q. And now you work at Omeros Brothers. What’s that like?

Omeros Brothers is one of the best seafood restaurants on the Gold Coast and has been operating for more than 40 years. It is well known by locals and tourists for fresh seafood cooked in a classic way. I have worked there since June 2020. It was a bit challenging at first but with my colleagues’ help, and techniques that I learnt at TAFE, I was able to get used to the work quickly. Now I mostly work on the grill section. I cook seafood, steak and pasta, and I use many different techniques in preparing food, including grilling, boiling, searing and stir-frying. Omeros Brothers’ kitchen is quite big and operated by up to 12 kitchen staff in the busy season. I love to cook by myself, but I also like working with teammates.

Q. What’s new and awesome in your world?

I have been undertaking a skill assessment for the past year and I finally passed it successfully. It’s all thanks to Omeros Brothers and TAFE. They gave me knowledge, techniques and a good environment to learn in. 

Q. What favourite memories spring to mind when you recall your student days?

While I was studying, my kids also started their student lives. As I took up the challenge to study and make friends in a totally different environment, my kids were also in the same situation. I was so happy to see my kids growing. When I remember the first day my children went to school… the day they made friends, the day they were invited to their friend’s birthday party and their first sleepover with friends, I feel a lump in my throat. They are all my favourite memories.

Q. And finally, what would you say to someone who is thinking about studying on the Gold Coast?

If you are thinking about studying on the Gold Coast, just do it. The Gold Coast is the greatest place to study and live in.