Kangan Batman TAFE's culinary star
9 October 2009
Joseph Abboud's star has risen steadily through Melbourne's competitive restaurant scene.
His renowned East Brunswick restaurant Rumi has received acclaim of the highest standard since it opened in 2006, but Joe's career story started back in 1998, when he graduated from Kangan Batman TAFE.
Joe completed his apprenticeship in cookery at the Institute while working with several high-profile chefs to develop and hone his culinary skills, including two years under Donovan Cooke at Est, Est, Est.
At the completion of his formal studies he worked for two years at Circa, under Michael Lambie.
Joe spent the next year travelling and working in various jobs outside the industry, but only briefly. An undeniable passion for the industry brought him back to cooking, working again under Donovan Cooke, this time at Ondine.
In 2001 Joe opened his first business, Kilmore Bluestone Restaurant and continued there until 2002. He spent the next four years working in various cooking positions.
In 2006, Joe opened Rumi, a 55-seat, Middle Eastern Restaurant in Lygon St - an establishment which very quickly attracted the attention of a discerning restaurant-going public.
The Age Good Food Guide voted Rumi the 2008 "Cheap Eats Champ". In March 2008, Joe was one of four young Australian chefs "on the rise", featured in The Age Good Weekend magazine.
By March 2009, Rumi had outgrown both its kitchen capacity and dining space, so a new Rumi opened just down the road, with a larger kitchen and a dining room offering 65 seats plus a private dining room for 18.
Joe describes his Middle Eastern background as a significant factor in his career. Part of his vision at Rumi is to remind people of the contribution of the Middle East region to global culture.
As his stepping stone into the industry, Joe credits his studies at Kangan Batman TAFE as an important part of his story.
"My studies helped me understand that the industry was multi-faceted and was about much more than just being a cook," he said.
"I still use the telephone skills and food science knowledge I learnt as part of the commercial cookery curriculum. My experience post-TAFE has reinforced the importance of the classic dishes and methods of cookery."
Joe's advice to apprentices is to get a taste of the real industry to decide if it's for them and to work hard.
With three apprentice chefs currently learning their craft at Rumi, and another four apprentices who Joe has helped through their studies, Joe is committed to passing on the kitchen torch, and sees great value in helping to build a strong and enthusiastic hospitality workforce.
Joe is more than content to build upon the success of Rumi over the next few years, but doesn't rule out the possibility of teaching in the TAFE system as a way of contributing and "giving back" to the industry.