Hospitality graduate Aaron inspires the next generation

Nov 12, 2021

TAFE SA graduate Aaron Formosa enjoys teaching people about gin.

Bartender and gin enthusiast Aaron Formosa’s career has had a few twists and turns but he reckons one of his most important moves has been studying at TAFE SA.

Now brand ambassador for Applewood Distillery, Aaron says the experience he gained from hospitality and cookery subjects at Regency Campus has been invaluable – and it’s something he’s keen to share with current students.

“I was already working part-time at a bar and I was looking to make it a full-time career. I went to Regency Campus to talk about the study options, and it was one of the lecturers who recommended catering operations (part of the Certificate III in Hospitality),” he says.

“The catering component has been really important. My lecturers really drilled into me that it’s about mise en place (everything in its place) and principles like timeliness, freshness and service are really relevant beyond catering.

“I’ve also worked in a number of small venues where I’ve had to work across the kitchen and bar, and my education at TAFE has played a huge part in my professional career.”

Since graduating with the Bartender of the Year Award in 2016, Aaron has sought experience in a variety of roles.

“One of my lecturers, Mark Cranwell, said, ‘Just say yes if you’re asked to take on different opportunities’ and I’ve really heeded that advice,” he says.

His first role after graduating was at the Stamford Grand at Glenelg where he worked on weddings and in the cocktail bar.

He has since worked across a variety of Adelaide’s small bars including Bank Street Social, La Rambla Tapas and Haines & Co and says the interaction with his customers is the best part of bartending.

“I like to create experiences for people like providing a tasting and seeing their reaction and enjoyment, and helping them learn,” Aaron says.

He joined the Applewood team in 2020 and six months ago, he was asked to take on the role of brand ambassador looking after South Australia and Tasmania.

“Australian gin is a special interest of mine, particularly native botanicals and the ethical procurement of them,” he says.

“We’re at the coalface of discovery at the moment and there are some niche small businesses popping up which specialise in farming native plants.”

Aaron recently hosted a gin masterclass for TAFE SA’s Hospitality students and says he was inspired by the students’ eagerness to learn.

Hospitality lecturer Mark Cranwell says the masterclass provided a learning experience that went beyond gin.

“Everyone in the group has different ideas on what hospitality is and to hear a former student talk about working in the industry was inspiring and gave them ideas on where the qualification could take them,” he says.