Cooking teacher becomes cover guy

YOU will be seeing a lot more of David O’Dea.

The Albury commercial cookery teacher was selected as the cover star for this year’s local White and Yellow Pages, honouring his work with apprentice chefs on the Border.

“It’s a bit surreal really,” Mr O’Dea said as he surveyed the front cover yesterday.

Mr O’Dea used his own money to start an annual scholarship in 2008 which saw two apprentices from his Albury TAFE class spend a week in Sydney working in Australia’s best restaurants, including the acclaimed Quay Restaurant.

“I saw a lot of good kids miss out because there was only so many scholarships available,” he said.

“And I’m only where I am because good people stood up and helped me when I was an apprentice.”

He called the Albury Apprentice Chef Career Development Scholarship his “pay it forward” scholarship, hoping the 13 apprentices who had received it would lend a helping hand to other aspiring chefs when their time came.

“My idea of it was they come back to Albury and bring that knowledge and pass that onto young chefs,” Mr O’Dea said.

He said some of his scholarship winners were now working in London and Edinburgh in the industry, while others were working locally.

But the scholarship was an expensive exercise, costing between $2500 and $3000 an apprentice.

Mr O’Dea said he had been able to keep it going thanks to local businesses including Broadgauge, Jones the Grocer and Essential Ingredient and his cash prize for winning a national cookery teacher award.

He hoped his face on the White and Yellow Pages would encourage more people and businesses to support the scholarship for a growing trade.

Mr O’Dea said the influx of cooking shows had led to the doubling of his student numbers, which had risen to more than 30 in the past four years.

The theme of this year’s telephone book was “Inspiring others to achieve” and product manager Sarah Simpson said it was about honouring those who don’t get the recognition they deserve.

“We wanted to honour these local legends who sometimes hide in the shadows and elevate them to a place where everyone can celebrate them,” she said.

“This year we are thrilled to recognise David’s efforts inspiring his community.”

Following complaints in previous years the phone book font was too small, the 2014-15 book returns to its original font size with four columns per page.

Distribution should take about six weeks for deliveries to reach every household.

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