THE language of food knows no boundaries. Just ask chef Gordon Muir, who recently returned from 12 months volunteering his culinary skills to teach students in Tonga.
A 30-year veteran of the food and hospitality industry, Gordon, from Orange in NSW, was keen to share his knowledge by volunteering overseas.
Accompanied by wife Sonia, Gordon headed to Tonga to work as a cookery trainer at the Ahopanilolo Technical College as part of the Australian Volunteers for International Development program, an Australian Government initiative.
His year away allowed him to contribute to employment opportunities for younger Tongans while working in areas he is most passionate about – people and food.
His assignment focused on building the capacity of hospitality and tourism teachers and students.
“My role was to assist the teachers and the students to gain efficient knowledge as well as skills to go out into the wider world,” Gordon said.
“Teaching students how to better meet the needs of English-speaking tourists while they study in a second language and have limited access to resources was a challenging yet rewarding experience.”
Twice a month students had a “real-life” experience cooking and serving guests at the onsite Pot Luck training restaurant.
Gordon’s role also had an impact on the wider community, with the introduction of twice-weekly cooking classes attended by locals, who had expressed an interest in cooking healthier food.