On Vietnam Vets Day (August 18th, 2019) I was a guest speaker at an RSL event at Woodgate Beach. It was an honour to be asked and in my speech, I concentrated on what I had learned in my 2 years of National Service duty from 1968-1970.
So many things I learnt were to be invaluable to me when I went on to a career in cooking. I felt the most important lesson I picked up was discipline which is essential in the Army and in kitchens.
Discipline is, as you know, crucial in the kitchen where you are required to always take orders from your boss, your Chef or to whomever you are working with/for. I well remember the first time in the kitchen and getting more orders than I could process but I did work my way through them…with a little help. In the Army, we were required to take orders and not talk back or question an order and it took a lot of discipline to shut up and do as I was told – something I was not used to. The same in the kitchen…never backchat the Chef.
In your studies, you need to discipline yourself to knuckle down and do your assignments or whatever is needed to achieve your educational goals.
When I started my first restaurant in Rockhampton, I had to discipline myself to work the long hours that are required when you run your own business. Short days were 15 hours long.
It is 50 years ago that I returned from Vietnam to complete my service here in Australia (January 1970) and to go to East Sydney Food School to start studies in cooking and hospitality – happy days, lucky days for me to fall into an industry I learned to love and respect. I am forever grateful for the lessons learned in the Army days especially discipline.