Chef Callum Irlam named the Riverland’s top apprentice

Mar 01, 2024

Callum Irlam is the Riverland

Riverland chef and TAFE SA graduate Callum Irlam has been named the region’s Apprentice of the Year, an award which recognises his enthusiasm and dedication to his career and the hospitality industry.

The award was presented as part of the Riverland and Mallee Vocational Awards, hosted by the Berri Rotary Club earlier this month.

Callum, who completed a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at TAFE SA’s Berri Campus, also received the Industry Award for Commercial Cookery and says he’s honoured to receive the accolades for doing a job that he loves.

“The awards are a big deal here in the Riverland and I’m really happy about it, it’s a reward for the effort I’ve made over the past few years,” he says.

A chef at the Loxton Community Hotel Motel, Callum is known for his hard work and determination and completed his apprenticeship ahead of schedule.

He says cooking provides an opportunity to “express yourself on a plate” whether it’s preparing steaks on the grill at work or pulling together a pasta dish at home.

One of the favourite aspects of his current role is to organise functions including food and wine dinners where he plans the menu.

Callum Irlam

“I enjoy working with premium ingredients and adding some flair to the meals,” he says.

“I also draw a lot of satisfaction from the busy nights when it all goes well and the patrons are happy, it’s what motivates you to do it all again.

“I think I work best when we’re under pressure, it’s when I thrive.”

Callum began his training at Loxton High School, completing the Certificate II in Commercial Cookery and starting the Certificate III qualification while in Year 11 and 12.

“When I started the course, I was a bit unsure of what I wanted to do for a career but within a couple of weeks of training I knew I wanted to be a chef,” he says.

He lists his TAFE SA lecturers, Gary Webb (pictured with Callum) and Alistair Ferguson, and his first head chef Daniel Anderson as the biggest influences on his career.

“At TAFE SA, Gary and Alistair saw the potential in me and recommended me for the job at the Loxton Hotel and whenever I see them, they’re still interested in how I’m going with my work,” he says.

“I love learning and at TAFE SA we learnt different things from the day-to-day things I do at the hotel and I appreciated the chance to get advice from the lecturers.”