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20 October 2023

On International Chefs Day, WorldSkills Champions share their passion for cooking

WorldSkills Champions Trust representatives Shae White and Rachel Crawford – a chef and a baker – talk to us about the mentors in their journey.

It’s International Chefs Day! And WorldSkills Champions Trust representatives Shae White and Rachel Crawford are celebrating.

This year’s theme “Growing Great Chefs” focuses on introducing children to the joys of cooking and the world of gastronomy. The aim of the campaign is to encourage a passion for mentoring young minds and nurturing culinary talent.

A chef and a baker, Shae and Rachel both got introduced to cooking through their loved ones, leaving them not only with wonderful memories of the time spent together, but with a legacy that has led them to a career in a sector that is all about passion and excellence. We spoke to them about their love for cooking, their journey, and about their mentors.

“Cooking has always been a big part of my life as it is a big part of my family. No matter how big or small an achievement or milestone my family would get together and share food and drink amongst ourselves,” says Shae, who knew from a very young age that she wanted to become a chef, to be surrounded by food, and to curate people’s experiences around that food.

Rachel remembers how, even as a kid, she would help her parents in the kitchen whenever she could and that she always had a love for baking.

“For me cooking is a way to connect people. Food makes people happy, and being able to express my creativity through food is such a wonderful thing,” she says, adding that, “it is a fantastic and fulfilling career and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.”

There’s pressure and usually a lot of work to be done in very little time, “but when you love it, when you’re passionate about it, it makes it worthwhile,” adds Shae.

Both agree on the importance teachers and mentors have had in their personal and professional development. As Rachel puts it, mentors are extremely important for passing down knowledge because “passion for your work is contagious.”

“Being a chef in any form is a career driven by passion. If you are surrounded by others who are as passionate about their job, there are simply no limits to what you can achieve together and the learning never stops,” she adds.

WorldSkills provides the perfect environment for mentorship to be at its highest standard, both admit.

“It has given me the opportunity to meet and collaborate with chefs from all over the world, to be mentored by chefs from all over the world,” says Shae, a Champion from WorldSkills Kazan 2019.

“During my training, I had my Expert, Chef Peter Edey conduct most of my training. I practically lived at his culinary institute for about three months prior to the Competition. However, I also had the opportunity to be mentored by Chef Ana Loureiro from Brazil. She was so instrumental in my journey even though we only worked together for a week.”

WorldSkills training and the mentorship of their Experts was valuable for both the Competition and their career in general. Rachel, for instance, recalls how WorldSkills introduced her to many wonderful bakers and chefs and how her Expert introduced her to everyone in his network.

Overall, both Champions shared their gratitude for their teachers, trainers, and mentors and the contributions they made to their development.

Shae considers herself fortunate to have worked with people throughout her WorldSkills journey that were willing to take her “under their wing” and teach her “no matter the time of day.”

Rachel says she is thankful to the teachers and mentors who have shared knowledge with her and helped her become the chef she is today. “I hope I am making you proud!” she says.

To all the chefs who are teaching, young chefs who are training, and all chefs-to-be around the world, happy International Chef Day!