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Jacinta Bendessi

Certificate III in Commercial Cookery

Trained by Meridian Vocational College

Employed by Ibis Hotels Accor Group

A 25-year-old Aboriginal woman from Ceduna, Jacinta identifies her tribe as Wirangu and Kokatha.

“Challenges in my early life prevented me from identifying my heritage and I never really had the chance to learn about some traditions in my culture or family background connections with the land,” she says.

“My career pathway commenced from inspiration from my brother. I found out how I could become a chef after hearing his stories of being in the kitchen. My brother would shine when teaching me different ways of cooking, and I realised I wanted to become a chef.”

Jacinta is finding her connection to land through food, which she sees as a solution to bringing people together for an experience of flavour, culture and making memories.

Recently invited by her trainer to join him in a 2021 Tasting Australia team, Jacinta worked in the kitchen alongside leading Australian chefs, helping to prepare and cook dishes using seasonal ingredients.

“Cooking helps me bring out my creative side – I have a new confidence,” says Jacinta. “Everyone who knows me knows I love to cook and it’s my space, but now I have the knowledge and skills to rely on.”

“The industry has so much to offer, people are willing to teach you. There are so many opportunities to grow and I’m glad I’m a part of it.”

With dreams of owning her own business, serving Aboriginal foods, Jacinta has enjoyed the opportunities her training has provided to learn about the use of Aboriginal ingredients and food presentation – and to teach Aboriginal people and others about her culture’s food.

“I’ve learnt my strengths and weaknesses through the kitchen and my aim is to continue to learn, enhance my skills and gain opportunities by networking and building industry connections to reach my future goals,” she says.