Kelvin Grove State College Year 12 student Zara Cannon has been judged the Winner of the Food and Beverage category at the Queensland Tourism Industry Council's (QTIC) Salute to Excellence Awards.
"I am so happy! I entered the competition to grow in the industry and to open any pathways and doors. I have experienced just tonight two job offers as a result of winning, which is just so surreal to me," Ms Cannon said.
This year saw another successful event with more nominations and more schools involved than ever before. QTIC Chief Executive, Daniel Gschwind, was pleased with the competition and the positive impact it has on the tourism and hospitality industry.
"Salute to Excellence is all about encouraging more people to look at our industry as a career choice and rewarding those Year 11 and 12 students and to also inspire others to follow in their footsteps," Mr Gschwind said.
The Salute to Excellence Awards had 21 finalists come together from across the state to compete for the winning title in three categories; Food and Beverage, Tourism and Cookery, with some of the best professionals in the industry to judge the competition. Judges were; Dustin Osuch from The Star Gold Coast, Josh Lawson from Hospitality Staffing Solutions, Karen Thornburn from Dreamworld, Karen Hellsten from Mountain Wine Tours, Adrienne Putelli from Hilton Hotel Brisbane and Kevin Puglisevich from Rydges South Bank.
Judge for Food and Beverage, Kevin Puglisevich said, "It is important for the students to feel a sense of pressure, competition, and will to win. It is important because this will help them improve their confidence, at work as well as in life. It is also more important for the students to interact with others in the industry who have experience and are still passionate about what they do".
The Salute to Excellence Awards fosters and encourages students to follow their passion and that is exactly what Ms Cannon is doing
"I am hoping for a full-time job at Rydges after I finish school. I hope to grow within the Hotel and to hopefully get as high as my boss Callum Kennedy. I want to enter the tourism industry as I love people-talking to them and just making their day," she said.
A fantastic QTIC event which wouldn't be possible without supportive industry sponsors; Riverlife, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Black and White Cabs, Institute of Culinary Excellence, Tafe Queensland, Rydges, Fun over Fifty, Surf Connect, Tourism and Events Queensland and the Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development.
Mr Gschwind concluded, "The Salute to Excellence Awards is a great opportunity to bring everybody together as we know tourism is all about partnerships-partnerships between employees, employers, government and industry organisations. The event showcases who we are as an industry".
(Article by Taneil Thornberry - QTIC)