Sheeba profile photoBeing a chef wasn’t a childhood ambition for me, in fact I didn’t find my culinary career path until much later in life.

I grew up in Chennai, India. Tennis was a major part of my childhood, I even qualified to Nationals while I was pursuing a banking degree in Chennai. During my studies I discovered computing, software was booming at the time, so I then pursued a master’s in information technology. 

However, I had become used to travelling through playing tennis so, when I was looking for a job, I couldn’t imagine a career without travel. So, I joined an airline crew in 2000. I enjoyed the role and decided to pursue hospitality and tourism further, so I started a post-graduate course in Hotel and Tourism Management in Switzerland in 2004. As part of this I completed internships in hotels and restaurants, but cooking was not part of my role until the day I had to cover a kitchen hand who didn’t show up. 17 years have passed since that moment and I haven’t stepped out of the kitchen since.  I’ve never looked back, no regrets.

After this I trained at a hotel in Switzerland and went on to work in restaurants and hotels in Columbia, New Zealand, India and finally Australia. I’ve set up new restaurants and I’m proud to have worked with award-winning chefs and have won awards myself. During that time, I completed an MBA in hotel management and a Diploma in Culinary Arts.

Watch the video to hear about my favorite parts of my role, my secrets for a successful career and why I do not have a signature dish:

 

People make Sodexo great

I’ve always believed that change is important, both professionally and personally, in order to continue to grow and learn. When a role came up with Sodexo in Australia, it seemed to be just what I was looking for. I was right.

I joined Sodexo as a Sous Chef in May 2020 at a 1,200-room mining camp, working 2 weeks on and 1 week off. When I’m working, I live on-site and work a 12-hour shift every day from 9am – 9pm. We prepare 3 meals a day for 600-900 people. My time is mainly focused on cooking the main dishes for dinner. I love the freedom and I get to be independent and creative at the same time, as a chef. I like trying out new and different ideas, my role can be challenging but it pushes me and my senses to the full potential.

The people I work with at Sodexo are what makes the company great, we are all part of a team and you really feel that team spirit at every moment. Our team stays in accommodation close to each other. We have the use of great leisure facilities when we are not working like a pool, gym and recreation center with beautiful views and stunning sunsets over the hills. There are often opportunities to learn about other roles within mining as you meet a wide range of people who stay at the camp. All of this makes my time on-site really enjoyable. I feel I also have an amazing work-life balance, on my week off between shifts on site I am able to catch-up with friends and family as well as take time to relax.

Whatever you do, do it heartily

My best advice to someone wanting to pursue a culinary career is: 

  1. learn to lead as well as to manage
  2. in whatever you do, do it heartily

In the past, before joining Sodexo, I experienced discrimination in the workplace as a woman of color. In the past I’ve also been criticized for showing leadership behavior, which was seen as aggressive, despite the fact that when male colleagues behave in the same way, they are praised. However, with Sodexo, is largely female dominated. Now the biggest challenge I face on a daily basis is prioritizing. 

I continue to raise awareness about gender discrimination to ensure my female colleagues feel safe at work. I think openness and promotion of gender equality is key to ensure true gender equality in kitchens.  

I’m looking forward to my future with Sodexo, I would love to be more involved with recipe development and food styling. 

 

Sheeba Frederick
Sous Chef at West Pilbara village,  Sodexo Australia

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