Dream job fires passion

Therese ColmanAugusta Margaret River Times

An overnight decision to leave school and start a chef’s apprenticeship has paid off for Steven Wilkinson who, more than a decade later, is working in his dream job on a yacht in the Mediterranean.

Wilkinson, 27, began his career at Leeuwin Estate in 2007.

From his early days as a young apprentice, a deep-rooted passion for food emerged and pushed Mr Wilkinson to further his craft.

“I’d been in hospitality since I was 14 and that’s where the interest started,” he said.

“But it took all of my time at Leeuwin to realise this is what I really wanted.”

He said he recognised Margaret River’s unique place in the culinary world, and how invaluable an apprenticeship in the region would be for others treading a similar path.

“Leeuwin’s head chef Dany (Angove) was a big influence on what I do, and everything I could’ve learned, I learned there,” Mr Wilkinson said.

“He always said to me ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’ and I’ve taken that with me to this day.

“You have to take risks.

“You have to take chances.

“You can’t just expect opportunities to be given to you.”

In 2012, Mr Wilkinson took a punt, joining a former colleague as a chef on a luxury yacht.

In the past six years he’s prepared meals for businessmen, entrepreneurs and owners of sports teams, travelling through the Mediterranean and working for people involved in events such as the Dubai Boat Show and the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix.

“Guests on the boat are very wealthy, the top one-percenters in the world,” he said.

“Cooking for these people is different to what you do in a restaurant kitchen.

“You need to have that passion to provide for the best of the best, and it really pushes you to continue to learn and grow.”

Mr Wilkinson’s two-months-on, two-months-off roster gives him time to refine his skill in Brazilian jujitsu, a discipline of martial arts he began while living in Margaret River.

“The discipline of BJJ is fantastic, as you really need to keep exercising your mind and your body every day,” he said.

“It teaches you to lose, because when you make a mistake there are consequences.

“You learn from losing and you appreciate that experience.

“Again, it goes back to taking risks.

“I bring a lot of that into the kitchen.”

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