Meet the Women in Foodservice winners: Nina Huynh

Photography: Ryan Peter

Rising Star winner: Nina Huynh
Age: 29
Chef de partie at Yellow, NSW

What drew you to a career in foodservice?
I’ve always wanted to be a chef my whole life. From a very young age I knew I wanted to cook. From gardening with my grandmother in her vegetable garden to coming home after school and finding comfort in all the visceral experiences of the smells and sounds of the kitchen. It wasn’t until I had my own daughter that I was brave enough to pursue my dream.

What impact do you hope to make on Australia’s foodservice landscape?
I hope to inspire young girls to pursue their dreams; to be brave enough to ask the universe for what they really want in life; and to work hard to make it happen.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
I come from the Blue Mountains and going through culinary school I would hear stories about how a guy from the Blue Mountains had worked hard and gone to the city to make his dreams come true. This person was Brent Savage. I knew that no matter what, I had to work for this man. I remember while I was studying I would go to the library after class and read the Bentley book and immerse myself in all the amazing things that this restaurant was doing. After I finished my certification, I plucked up all the courage I had and headed into the city just for the opportunity to stage at one of the venues in the Bentley Group. I found myself at Yellow and was eventually offered a position where I met head chef Chris Benedet and now head chef of Monopole Toby Stansfield, who both coached me into becoming the chef I am today. They knew that I was a single mother and that I wanted to work hard, and they continue to mentor me today to be the best person and chef that I can be.

What is the biggest professional challenge you’ve faced so far?
The biggest challenge so far has been balancing my roles as a single mother and a chef. I’ve realised how resilient and strong I can be as a woman. My two biggest loves in this world are my daughter and my job. Being challenged every day, while having the support of my team and family around me, has made me the most fulfilled I’ve ever been.

What have you learned since starting your career?
I’ve learned to never give up, always be a team player and always strive to be better. I learned that at the end of the day, no matter what is going on in your life, discipline and a good attitude will always be your saving grace.

What is the most significant problem facing the foodservice industry today?
The biggest problem facing the foodservice industry today is sometimes, as individuals within the industry, we can feel very alone in the hustle and bustle of everyday activity. Taking time to realise that there is a soul in every person we meet or work with is vital. In any large industry, it is easy to get caught up in being just a number, but I have been very lucky as I have been able to be a part of an incredible company, surrounded by incredibly talented real people who recognise and understand that we are all different.

Read about all the winners from the 2019 Women in Foodservice Awards here