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Cupcake queen to catering maestro - meet Sylvia Nguyen

To become a true star in the world of cooking, it's fair to say that you need an X factor. Whether this comes in the form of supreme skills, fast problem-solving ability or a genuine passion for the industry, your customers certainly know when you are engaged with your passion.


Sweet tooth baker

At the tender age of 19 years, Sylvia Nguyen might not be household name yet, but given her success, drive and love for cooking, we at Kenvale College believe that she is definitely one to watch in the future.

Sylvia is one of our first-year Diploma of Hospitality (Commercial Cookery) students, who arrived at Kenvale College with a slightly sweeter C.V. than her peers. Five years ago, age 14, Sylvia launched her own cupcake business from her Sydney home.

During the first few years, the business was driven by Sylvia's enjoyment of baking for family and friends. Baking after school and on the weekend meant that she could continue to excel in her studies as well as balance her time taking cupcake orders. At high school, she took Business Studies to help her develop basic skills such as calculating profits and attracting customers - the core foundations of any flourishing enterprise.

"At the time, I didn't know how to run a business and so I just gave it a shot," Sylvia said.

Sylvia asked her cousin, a graphic designer, to make her a logo and with a growing social media presence, Sylvia's Cupcakes was starting to rise. Of course, Sylvia took a year off the business last year as she worked towards top academic grades - something that she knew would be important to get into Kenvale College.

When 2016 rolled around, the ovens were hot again as Sylvia had the time to explore the business in more depth. In addition to the countless charity fundraisers that she would bake for herself, she got a very special call from a client that would reveal how just her enterprise had grown.

"NAB Bank asked me to bake 500 cupcakes for their fundraisers. I was very shocked cause I'm just a solo baker, just one person running this business," she said.

Sylvia's Cupcakes is one business that is moving in the right direction, but that doesn't mean that Sylvia is distracted by its potential. In fact, alongside her study at Kenvale College, she works at European Catering - a slightly different aspect of the hospitality industry, but one just as important in Sylvia's eyes.

Sylvia's Canapes?

As one of Sydney's premier catering businesses, European Catering operates at some of the biggest and most important functions in the city - and Sylvia is right in the middle of the action. At the moment, she works in the canapes section, producing countless bites of food designed to wow the senses. With over 50 different styles of canapes, the role keeps Sylvia on her toes and allows her to explore those skills developed at Kenvale College.

"There are all these different types of sauces that I have to know, make and garnish. It is very different to restaurants where there is a service period when customers arrive," she said.

While her work with European Catering is part of her course work at Kenvale, Sylvia believes that experiencing how real businesses work and operate will stand her in good stead for the future.

"With catering, we have to travel, transport the food carefully and always work in different kitchens. It's very cool to absorb all this information and understand in more detail," Sylvia noted.

As for her Kenvale College studies, Sylvia loves the hands-on approach to learning new techniques and what it is like to be in a real kitchen. At the moment, she is learning how to run a restaurant service with real customers coming into the school and trying her dishes.

"Right now, we are doing a lot of practical, hands-on experience with elements such as knife skills and developing those basic dishes. Next year, we will be doing a lot of theory work which will back up that practical work," she explained.

Plans for the future?

Once Sylvia finishes her Diploma of Hospitality (Commercial Cookery), she plans to do a Diploma in Event Management, then hospitality at Kenvale College. With her flourishing cupcake business, sound work experience and love of study, we have no doubt that we'll be seeing (and tasting) her food more in the future.

If you would like to learn more about Sylvia's current course or any other Kenvale qualification, get in touch with our team today.

Our industry partners

At Kenvale College, we work with a range of industry partners to find the best possible placement for each student.

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