Using the power of food for personal growth – The Miele Kitchen Challenge
Hailing from the UK, leading chef and food hero Rob Rees is founder of Kitchen Challenge Australia, an innovative kitchen experience that brings people together.
“Kitchen Challenge is so much more than just a cooking course. It is a blending, an immersion, a perfect storm, for organisational and people development,” said Rob.
Participants gather one day a week over six weeks, to take part in this ‘plough to plate’ journey, starting with basic cooking and kitchen responsibility on day one then progressing onwards to the preparation of a Michelin standard celebration feast for 50 guests.
“Miele came on board 12 months ago and has since participated in the Kitchen Challenge four times, with more future Challenges booked.
“I have total gratitude to Miele for being Kitchen Challenge pioneers here in Australia. Each team member that has taken part from Miele has totally embraced it, trusted the process and given it 100 percent. I am forever grateful to them and won’t forget,” said Rob.
Kitchen Challenge at work
Five to six individuals from the corporate world work alongside five to six individuals from different backgrounds, such as refugees, asylum seekers, those who may have a disability, drug or alcohol addiction, carers or young people who have been excluded
“All Kitchen Challenge participants learn together, inspire and challenge each other and develop stronger connectivity, purpose and well-being,” Rob said.
The Kitchen Challenge equips individuals with practical cooking learnings, as well as exciting and stimulating sessions, such as bee keeping, animal welfare, shepherding, abattoir, bush craft experiences and marketplace visits to source local and seasonal produce.
“Each element is designed to test and disrupt your thinking and clarify an individual’s strength and style,” Rob added.
Olivia Cordner, Miele National Events & Sponsorship Manager, who recently participated in the Kitchen Challenge, said: “I didn’t have any preconceived expectations going into the challenge, however I understood that the programme might be a little confronting. I kept a really open mind, rather than setting particular expectations.”
“I found the group to be really positive and open. Everyone seemed to be invested in the challenge and took on board Rob’s suggestion of “trusting the process”. It was inspiring to witness such personal growth from some of the participants, and It was a great opportunity to meet a group of people that you wouldn’t normally have crossed paths with,” Olivia said.
Cohort 10 participant Luke, receiving the award for’ Most Improved Leader’ as voted by the group. Pictured with Miele HR Director, Rachael Leshinsky.
The Results – Positively impacting lives
There are many success stories that have grown out of Kitchen Challenge. Some of those under privileged participants have enrolled into hospitality courses, another individual now works with Rob Rees in the Kitchen Challenge.
“I have seen the social impact that Kitchen Challenge has and the positive impact of getting individuals to reach their full human potential. Utilising the power of food into a behaviour change situation is great fun,” Rob said.
Diane Heale, Miele Customer Care Team Leader who also participated in the challenge, commented “The dynamic of our group was fantastic, we all helped each other when needed, listened when we had something to share without judgement & had some good laughs along the way. I learnt that is was okay to feel outside of my comfort zone and to learn from that. We also did some work around open ended questioning, which is a great skill to have and is a lot harder than it sounds.”
About Rob Rees
In 2005 Rob Rees was awarded an MBE for ‘Services to the Food Industry’ and in March 2015 Mr Rees was appointed Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Gloustershire. He is a social entrepreneur whose work has had impact on the positive health of millions of people. The Kitchen Challenge is also officially credited as a social trader. Find out more about the Kitchen Challenge here.