Faces of Tamworth: chef, teacher Cameron Falzon

Although born and bred in Sydney, Cameron Falzon is now earning a crust in Tamworth – pardon the pun.

He aspired to become a chef from a very young age, and completed an apprenticeship at The Stamford Grand in North Ryde while studying at the Northern Sydney Institute of TAFE – Ryde college. 

He has worked in places such as the Wentworth Sofitel Sydney, the Grove Hotel, Brasserie Roux and even the Dorchester Hotel, all in London.

The award-winning chef has worked in a Michelin 2-star restaurant, and with the highly respected French-born and Britain-based restaurateur and chef Albert Roux, who has trained a series of future Michelin-starred chefs.

Now a TAFE New England cookery teacher based at the Tamworth campus, Mr Falzon dedicates his time and passion to helping young students develop their skills and knowledge. 

He leads them in preparing restaurant-quality three-course meals for the public at the campus’s Futures Restaurant, and he is also involved in the gruelling WorldSkills competition at a regional level. 

He’s one of our Faces of Tamworth, and today we flashback to a story we ran when he returned from the 44th WorldSkills International Competition in Abu Dhabi as a co-ordinator in the cookery section, sharing the unique experiences and highlights of the adventure.

A DESERT safari, Ferrari World and lavish malls, mixed with 16-hour days, high-pressure competition and everyone getting over the line.

That about sums up Cameron Falzon’s recent trip to Abu Dhabi as a co-ordinator for the 44th WorldSkills International Competition.

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Mr Falzon, back home after what’s dubbed the skills Olympics, said it had been an “incredible experience”.

“It’s the biggest thing I’ve probably ever participated in, besides being a competitor,” he said.

“There were 1200 competitors, nearly the same number of judges, 59 countries involved and 51 categories in vocational education.”

Mr Falzon’s role, with one other TAFE colleague from Western Australia, was to look after more than 40 judges and more than 40 competitors in cookery.

This included setting up kitchens, ordering equipment and utensils, sourcing ingredients and setting up tasting rooms.

Mr Falzon said there had been a few stressful moments in the lead-up to competition, including finding out that some of the required equipment had been misinterpreted.

Go behind the scenes - what does it take to set up Worldskills?

“What they interpreted different equipment would be, we had little things like that lost in translation, so we just had to re-source,” he said.

“It all worked in the end – it all came and it all started on time.”

The highlight of the event was “watching all the competitors finish, just their relief that it was all over,” he said.

“Being an ex-competitor, it brings back a lot of memories from when I did it; seeing them relax [because] after months or a year of training, it’s finally happened for them.”

What was on the menu?

Mr Falzon said the competitors had had to make their interpretation of bread and butter pudding; use salmon and a rack of lamb in two different main courses; and use local produce in a dish of their choice.

For the latter, he got to choose the star ingredients.

​“Being over in the Middle East, we got beautiful apricots from Iran, dates from the UAE … Then it was a free-for-all: do what they liked with those ingredients, with others of their choice.”

All the competitors were under the age of 22, but Mr Falzon said the rules meant he hadn’t been allowed to talk with them or offer any encouragement.

“Some of them, the stress did get to them, but they all did extremely well,” he said.

“They all finished, they all completed.”

Mr Falzon said some of the other most memorable moments were sightseeing.

“I was lucky enough to go to Dubai, where I saw the world’s tallest building,” he said.

“They had the opening and closing ceremony at Ferrari World, so I had to go to the racetrack.

“They did a desert safari, so: ride camels, go out to the middle of the desert, have something to eat.

“It’s just amazing over there; they have big shopping malls with a ski field in it, or an aquarium or a zoo.”