Our Teachers

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Alison Taafe

Director & Training Manager

 

Alison Taafe is a well renowned professional chef and an award-winning teacher of professional cookery. British by birth, she trained at the highly prestigious Westminster Hotel School in London. After the rigorous training she received there, she travelled and worked her way around the world working under Michelin star chefs and in some of the best kitchens and restaurants. She has cooked for movie starts, pop stars, sporting greats and more importantly royalty, namely Queen Elizabeth II and two US Presidents both Reagan and Bush Snr along the way. Alison eventually made her home in Australia in 1988. She began her professional teaching career in 1996 and in 2004, Alison was the first ever chef to win a prestigious Churchill Fellowship, which was a great honour.

 

Alison claimed a further award, namely, Outstanding Educator in 2006. She is the one of the founders and Directors of the ‘ICE’, The Institute of Culinary Excellence, which opened in 2014 and continues to go from strength to strength. Alison is a published author of 3 cookbooks and has made many appearances on TV. She is a dynamic, passionate and motivated chef and teacher who spends her life constantly striving to share her vast knowledge of food with all her students to help them become the very best chefs they can be.

 

Danielle Dixon

Executive Chef and Head of Studies

Danielle Dixon started her apprenticeship age 29 after a top 12 placing in series 3 of MasterChef Australia. She was the first contestant from the show to become a qualified chef after completing her Certificate III in Commercial Cookery in 2012 under Alison Taafe.

 

Gaining experience in some of Australia’s top restaurants including Quay, Rockpool and Aria she settled into Bucci Brisbane and spent four years in the Bucci kitchen taking on the head chef role before leaving in 2017.

 

She started teaching at The ICE shortly after, training 1st and 2nd year apprentice chefs and quickly showed her aptitude and natural talents for training. In 2018 she was offered the position of Executive Chef and Head of Studies. Danielle looks after the day to day operation of the cafe, canteen and catering operations as well more importantly looking after the students, development of curriculum and maintaining relationships with employers and industry partners of ICE.

 

Danielle regularly puts new culinary trends to the test through a series of pop up restaurants, with the latest, Midnight Dining Club, treating Brisbane’s night owls to not just your average late night snacks and more recently representing ICE at the Qld Chef of the Year Competition.

 

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Mark Kujawa

Trainer / Assessor

 

Mark Kujawa is a “World Champion” competition winning qualified chef, with over 25 years of food industry experience. He has worked around the world before coming back home to Australia and basing himself on the Gold Coast.

 

After finishing his apprenticeship, he used his career as a traveling tool. Being a chef has taken him around the world to Paris, Spain, England, Greece, USA, Europe, Germany and South Stradbroke Island – just to mention a few.

 

Mark is an exceptionally gifted teacher who is entertaining, enthralling and motivating in each of his classes. One of Mark’s greatest passions is working with young teenagers. Having been a chef for over 24 years, he has devoted his life to seeing young people leave their past, and push into their future, taking hold of every opportunity, impacting their community and doing amazing things with their lives.

 

 

 

 

Matt Johnson

Trainer / Assessor

 

Matthew trained at the internationally recognised Christina Martin School of Food and Wine in Durban, South Africa. His experience includes work in 5 Star Luxury Lodges, Game Reserves, Restaurants, Fine Dining, Clubs and Upmarket Cafés and work as a private chef. From South Africa to the UK and then on to Australia, Matthew brings a range of expertise from experience with diverse cultures from different countries.

 

Matthew then took his passion for cooking and applied this to becoming a trainer and assessor in order to help others achieve their goals.

 

“My philosophy is to keep communication open at all times and to be open to questions and new ideas. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses. Build on your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses.”

 

Matthew joins us as one of the coordinators of the Certificate II in Kitchen Operations program and will also be assisting with the training of our Apprentice Chefs.

 

Stephen Kirwan

Workplace Trainer / Assessor

 

 

Stephen Kirwan started his professional career working on passenger vessels for the British Merchant Navy. These skills served him well as he spent several years travelling the world as a chef supplementing his funds with assignments in Florida USA, a ski season in Australia and a season at the Sheraton Mirage Fiorelli’s Restaurant in Port Douglas. 

 

Soon after Stephen moved his family to Cairns, NQ where he further developed his knowledge of tropical ingredients and complimentary cooking methods and established his own private catering business, Chefs Do Party. This thrived  whilst working across two venues, catering for weddings, private and corporate functions in addition to some personal customers

 

On moving to Brisbane, Stephen continued with his catering business whilst studying full time at QUT for his Bachelor of Education majoring in VET. Stephen is our Workplace Trainer and Assessor for experienced cooks and also qualified chefs looking to get recognition of their skills, or update / upgrade their current qualification.

 

Stephen has built a large network of Hospitality professionals in Brisbane, with many of his ex-students now Head Chefs or business owners.