Some of Travis Naoum’s fondest memories of childhood were of cooking up a feast with his European family.

“I found my passion for food when I was pretty young,” he says. “Growing up with a European family we always made big meals and I was usually in the kitchen helping out.”

After high school, Travis began a cooking apprenticeship, but the bosses were not overly supportive and it scared him off temporarily.

Travis ventured into manufacturing for several years, before moving back into hospitality.

He was washing dishes at the award-winning Cardinia Park Hotel in Beaconsfield when the head chef saw the potential in him and offered him another apprenticeship.

Travis knew he had to follow his heart and give cooking another try.

At age 28, he began his Certificate III in Commercial Cookery apprenticeship with Chisholm. He never looked back.

During the three-year apprenticeship, Travis attended classes one day a week, while the rest of the week he was on-site getting real world experience in the kitchen.

“I’d recommend Chisholm to anyone regarding an apprenticeship, especially cookery,” he says. “The teachers were very helpful and supportive and I liked learning new things. My favourite units were stocks, soups and sauces, and pastries, which comes in handy where I work now, because we make everything from scratch.”

Travis ended up landing a job at Stella’s Kitchen at The Orchard at Montague, a contemporary restaurant featuring farm-to-table menu options, set against the stunning backdrop of Lysterfield Park.

After one month on the job, he was promoted to sous-chef – a tremendous accomplishment. Among his other achievements was being nominated as Apprentice of the Year at the Chisholm Education Awards.

Travis loves the fast-paced nature of his work – on a typical day he and his team pump out breakfast and lunch for between 300 and 400 people.

“I enjoy the pressure,” he says. “I love plating a meal and seeing it look amazing and knowing I’ve done that, then seeing the plate come back empty. It means a lot.”

Another aspect Travis finds rewarding is layering different elements to create something visually striking and delicious.

Travis’ dream is to one day be head chef at Stella’s Kitchen – a goal that appears to be well within his reach.

“In the future, I’d also love to open a little bed and breakfast on a vineyard,” he says. “I’d cook farm-to-table food with no waste, everything fresh and use seasonal vegetables and meats. I love when people are happy and together and for me the kitchen is the centre of the house.”