• Jack Ward

Catholic Parish hires fine dining chef

Published in The Ararat Advocate, Ararat's local weekly newspaper published by West Vic News Pty Ltd.


Ararat’s Catholic Parish has made the unusual step to hire a chef and acquire a takeaway license, to continue its connection with parishioners and the wider community during the pandemic.


The idea was flagged when a local chef, and a friend of a St Mary’s Primary School teacher, was left jobless because of the heavy restrictions on eateries.

PHOTO: (L-R) Joyce Clery and Mike Flower (Jack Ward/The Ararat Advocate)

Ararat Catholic Parish Secretary Joyce Clery said they decided to use the centre’s kitchen for the purpose that it was built and employ Michael Flower in the process.


“In the time of a pandemic, it really should be the churches that are looking after the people and not shutting down,” she said.


Mr Flower is originally from the UK and has eight years of fine dining experience. His job at the Livefast Café in Halls Gap came to an abrupt end when the pandemic hit.


“It was very scary because, obviously, I'm not entitled to any government funding. I have nothing, only this,” he said.


He is now working two days a week at the parish, cooking meals, chutneys, jams, scones and tea.


“I put a lot of effort and a lot of passion into the meals. The feedback’s been brilliant. It's just a very rewarding job,” he said.


The takeaway service offers hot lunches and frozen meals, operating on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12pm to 1pm.


The service is also supporting families in need with its pay it forward program and teachers who have been at school educating the children of essential workers.


“We do a delivery every week. We give people a little bit of jam or a little pie and then we look after other families who might be in need of that little bit of help,” Ms Clery said.


“We have people donating food, we have the chef cooking, we have people donating their time – it’s a win, win for everybody.”


The parish has a takeaway license until the end of December but Ms Clery said they would love to continue it beyond this year if there is enough community support.


Orders and enquiries can be made by emailing ararat@ballarat.catholic.org.au or calling 5352 5460.

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