Visa Award and Vision for Kitchen Challenge

We are delighted to announce the award of a Distinguished Talent Visa to our Founding Director Rob Rees MBE DL.

Having successfully gained permanent residency, we today review 2017 and discuss the future of one of our key projects – Kitchen Challenge.

2017 has been spent developing Kitchen Challenge Australia – a project that changes behaviour and unlocks potential. Pilot projects took part in Bendigo, Melbourne and Sydney.

The Kitchen Challenge program is delivered 1 day per week for 8 weeks and involves 14 people per cohort. It combines high pressure cooking environment with personal development scenarios. Concluding with a stakeholder celebration for 45 people, the cohort prepare and serve food of the highest quality.

50 people directly (180 indirectly) experienced the developmental journey in 2017 with aspirations for 210 in 2018 and 350 in 2019 in Australia and New Zealand.

The project has overarching goals in developing leaders, creating meaningful employment, igniting human potential and showcasing the value of purpose in a business world. It involves preparing many new recipes, practical surprises and academic theory. Everyone has their own motivations for taking part.

In addition, Kitchen Challenge, blends leaders from the business world with people who, for many reasons, face challenges in their lives. 2017 involved carers, those overcoming addiction, homelessness and wider mental health issues. Importantly though it recognises the person not the problem.

2018 will extend participation to young people aged 18 to 24 as well as those living in social housing.

What does Kitchen Challenge look like in 5 years?

  • It will be an essential solution for commissioners in preventive health, community development and career creation in Australia and New Zealand.
  • It will be informing changes in Government policy, structures and process in health, education, and the economy – saving public money.
  • It will be supporting the development of better purpose, employer engagement and connectivity in 100 businesses. Those companies will become equipped to be outstanding in their field.
  • We will have a robust evidence base gathered in partnership with collaborators and hybrid challenges that will ensure a sustainable investment.
  • 30% of our participants will have become entrepreneurs
  • 99% of participants will have improved mental health and well-being.
  • 50% of participants will be Employers and Employees from the SME sector ,Start Up companies and Social Entrepreneurs
  • Over 1000 participants will have engaged in our activities.
  • We (in partnership with others) will have hub kitchens in Sydney and Melbourne offering community enrichment, workforce development and food skills fit for the future across communities.

As we reflect, adapt and look forward what have we learnt?

We have experienced just a small amount of the diversity of Australia. An amazing country and one that has welcomed our work. The communities we have engaged with are full of great people and opportunity. We are relishing the creation of something that improves lives and creates mutually beneficial understanding.

Participants of the challenge share their vulnerabilities, develop and share skills, collaborate with purpose and as individuals recalibrate their own goals, aspirations and opportunities.

Thanks to trailblazers like Miele Australia, Brimbank City Council, Bendelta, Bendigo Secondary College and other interested collaborators the Australian challenge has begun. There are results showing significant improvements in health and wellbeing amongst all taking part and subsequent changes in sense of purpose, emotional intelligence, connection and empathy of participants.

Rob Rees MBE DL says “The first year’s participants have helped to create a project that others will now follow. They have led the way with their investment of time, skills and collaboration. We have something now pertinent and ready to deliver across Australia and New Zealand. I can’t thank them enough for their investment as pioneers and leaders. It’s exciting times for Kitchen Challenge over the next 5 years.”

Find out more at

We are ready to share knowledge, collaborate, scale up, innovate and help seek out positive change.


Kitchen Challenge – Potentiology

Our first #Potentiology Kitchen Challenge has concluded and what a fantastic program it was.
Participants from varying backgrounds and circumstances came together to overcome a myriad of challenges. Each challenge designed to push the boundaries and aide each participant in developing to their true potential.

“The science and art of realising human potential”
– Bendelta, Potentiology developers and Kitchen Challenge partners

Joined by MasterChef 2016 winner, Elena Duggan, participants shared their vulnerability to develop connection, purpose and improved emotional agility.

An important part of each Kitchen Challenge program is for each participant to trust the process.

Rob Rees MBE DL, Kitchen Challenge founder, noted that “Everyone (including Elena and I) trusted the process.”

Participants were pushed further out of their comfort zone when faced with a surpise ‘pop-up shop’ in which they had less than 24 hours to prepare and deliver to the locals of Bondi, NSW.

Coming together and arising to the challenge yet again, the blended team took on the challenge to deliver a successful and SOLD OUT event held at the Wayside Chapel, Bondi.

This blended and immersive experience created enriched purpose and powerful positive change.

Congratualations to all involved in Kitchen Challenge – Potentiology and many thanks to our partners at Bendelta.

For more about Bendelta’s potentiology program click here


Kitchen Challenge 3 – A Great Success

A big congratulations to the Kitchen Challenge Cohort 3 participants!  A trying, yet successful 8 weeks saw the development of 12 individuals both in the kitchen and out.  Participants engaged in 8 days of intense learning of culinary, leadership and team work skills. Consistently pushing each individual out of their comfort zone. Experiences included learning about nutrition, beekeeping, menu design and the delivery of a full resturant session to 45 guests. Participants included carers in the Brimbank area and Corporate employees from appliance experts Miele. Participants embraced the challenge, many taking the new learnt skills home to their families and friends, expanding the reach of the Kitchen Challenge program.

“[Kitchen Challenge] was a blast it gave me confidence, it gave me courage it and made me do things I would normally not do. Using food as a foundation is a great concept, as everyone knows food, everyone eats food and everyone can relate to food. I met new friends and I learnt new skills, but most of all I met an amazing man called Rob Rees, Thank you Rob.” – Kitchen Challenge Cohort 3, Head Chef John


The challenge ended with a day of reflection as the team prepared the successful resturant dishes for themselves.  This challenge proved the value of Kitchen Challenge as we saw a tremendous amount of growth from each individual. We wish all the Cohort 3 participants the best moving forward with their new found skills and abilities.

To book your Challenge experience in 2018 please visit Kitchen Challenge Website


Kitchen Challenge Cohort 3 – update

Just a quick update on Kitchen Challenge Cohort 3 – the blended group of Miele leadership team and carers from Brimbank and Sunshine areas of Melbourne. They are on day 5 of 8 and worked hard making pasta and ravioli as well as learning about the dishes they would be serving to their guests in a couple of weeks. Together they are one and inch by inch they are building trust in each other, connecting and becoming ready for their final adventure.

To book your Challenge experience in 2018 please visit Kitchen Challenge Website

Bendelta Potentiology Project is GO

At the end of August 2017 Rob partnered with the awesome Bendelta team in creating a new capacity building project. The project uses a strong evidence base around developing human potential and has combined that knowledge with the practical elements of Kitchen Challenge. Not only that but Bendelta have embraced the concept of blending those from the corporate world with those who for whatever reason happen to find life more difficult than others.

The result was the first two days of seven in the Our Big Kitchen space at Bondi Junction.

We wont feedback too much yet apart from to say simply “wow” – what an amazing group of people. Each and everyone prepared to trust the concept and learn and develop together.

Robs friendly fish made an entrance as always!

Do find out more at Bendelta Website

Rob teaches culinary skills to Early Childhood Educators!

The Reggio Emilia Conference, held biannually, brings together Early Childhood Educators from across Australia. This year Community Early Learning Australia sponsored a pre-conference workshop led by Rob Rees.

Rob shared his passion, skills, and expertise for good food and healthy eating. The menu for the morning included an interactive cooking demonstration, lunch preparation, and in true Italian tradition ‘tutti a tavola’ participants joined each other at the table to share experiences and enjoy some truly delicious, healthy fare!

20 people who wanted to change the food world in their settings did a fantastic job throughout the workshop. They collaboratively shared ideas and innovative solutions to a range of areas in the ever-changing world of education. Vive cookery school is a fantastic venue with very supportive and proactive staff.

Food and health education is a fantastic addition to any Early Childhood setting, congratulations to the 20 participants who immersed themselves in the four-hour workshop for the benefit of their professional development and in turn the children they educate.


Kitchen Challenge Cohort 2 – An immersive and blended experience

Corporate employees from Miele Australia and Full-time carers come together in the Kitchen Challenge to learn, grow and flourish.

April saw the beginning of the first immersive and blended Kitchen Challenge with the visionary leadership team at Miele Australia.

Blended Kitchen Challenge: Staff from Miele and Carers from Brimbank on day one of the challenge.

The team at Miele have joined together with awesome community members of Brimbank to understand collaboration, develop social impact and many individual goals for 8 weeks.

The Cohort had hands-on kitchen experiences from soda bread to filleting fish as well as learning to treat yourself right with Nutrition session presented by Alimentary.

Additionally, participants moved even further out of their comfort zone with a Beekeeping session at CERES Environmental Park, Brunswick.

Cohort 2 engaging in a Bee Keeping session with Benedict The Practical Beekeeper

Week two: Cohort 2 engage in a hands-on nutrition session with Ali from Alimentary.








Fish Day: Peter from Miele filleting a fish, a newly learnt skill.

Prep time: Renee preps vegetables for a culinary creation!













The final challenge, a “resturant session”, saw participants putting on a luncheon for friends, family, Miele staff and corporate clients. Participants branched into two teams in order to fully cater and wait the event.

Front of house team leader, Luke McLennan, took great responsibility in leading his team to provide the best service possible to those dining. Throughout the challenge we saw tremendous growth in a number of participants leadership skills, particularly Luke, who exceeded expectations at the final luncheon.

Head Chef, Scott Rundle, took charge of the kitchen and his staff, in order to provide delicate and delicious meals such as Ceviche of Market fresh fish with capers, herbs and dressed leaves.

At the conclusion of the event the crowd favourite seemed to be the dessert: “Challenge Surprise” – a deconstructed snickers devised and developed by the whole challenge cohort.


Final Challenge: Front of house staff (Sacha, Liz, Cindy, Luke and Doris) chat with Rob before the event begins.


Back in the Kitchen: Stacey, Rob and Robin discuss strategy before the customers arrive.


The Final Challenge: Resturant set by the front of house team.


Kitchen Staff: Kriti, Peter and Jenny freshly make Spinach and Ricotta Tortelini.


Crowd Favourite: Challenge Surprise – a deconstructed Snickers


During a specific coaching session on the Kitchen Challenge program, participant Jenny Willis, took a stand and a step towards achieving her goal. Jenny, who cares for her 22 year old son Daniel, has launched the campaign “Van for Dan”  to raise $90,000 to help pay for a modified van with an adult bed inside and enough room to allow her to change him. This will allow Dan and Jenny to live a more adventuours life, that not only will allow Dan to go beyond the backyard, but assist in providing the stimulation Dan needs to continue to improve his cognitive ability. Jenny has thanked the Kitchen Challenge team and Cohort 2 for the support she has received in launching this campaign.
If you’d like to know more or donate to the “Van for Dan” campaign visit:


Fish Day: Jenny Willis with a slimy salmon. Moving out of the comfort zone with sensory experiences.

For more information about the Kitchen Challenge Program please visit:

Kitchen Challenge at Bendigo Senior Secondary College: More than a cooking class!

The BSSC Kitchen Challenge is underway and students are definitely up to the task.
The Bendigo Advertiser recently featured the program and the stars of the program, the students in an article that discusses how The Kitchen Challenge program is more than learning to cook.


BSSC Kitchen Challenge participant Jess and Chef Rob Rees MBE DL.


Bendigo Advertiser excerpt:

“It might look like an episode of MasterChef, but these students are in it for more than an opportunity to bone up on their cooking skills.

The BSSC Kitchen Challenge is a personal development program, first and foremost.

Chef Rob Rees said each of the 11 participants came from different backgrounds.

Some were in Year 11, others in Year 12. A number of the participants are from NETschool Bendigo, which re-engaged young people who have left or are at risk of leaving mainstream schooling.

While some of the participants might have studied hospitality before, others have not.

“Their skills base is really good,” he said.

So good, in fact, that he had to scrap the content he had planned for weeks four and five and start afresh”