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”




South Melbourne Night Market and Neff Market Kitchen

Big love and thanks to everyone who attended Robs Masterclass at the Night Market on Feb 9th and also the Valentines Masterclass on 11th Feb in the Neff Market Kitchen at South Melbourne Market.

The Night market guests got to try veal meatballs with pine nuts and fines herbes all wrapped up in lettuce and lightly steamed. These where then topped with a fresh and zingy sauce vierge from olive oil, herbs, lemon and fresh tomato.

Valentines fans got Jon Dory with caper nut butter, rump of Lamb with Gremolata, Cherry and Amaretto Clafoutis and a pan fried peppered fruit salad with coriander tuille buiscuits.

Thank you to everyone who came and had fun and laughter.

Rob says ” I love this market. Its one of teh most amazing places in Melbourne for showcasing the quality of Australian produce – full of taste, seasonality and great value”

Keep an eye out for next date later in the Autumn of 2017


Kitchen Challenge with Bendigo is underway

Delighted to update people on the first Kitchen Challenge has now started in Australia with Bendigo Secondary College.

The group joined Rob and team last week (7th Feb) to start the project producing some great breads, their own lunch and gaining an insight into what the next 8 weeks will possibly hold for them.

They will learn about food from farm to fork and gain and learn huge amounts about themselves so as to be able to unlock the potential to achieve their aspirations.

We already have a number of partners on board including Inglewood Beef, Free to Fish and the amazing Bendelta will be offering mentorship opportunities for the participants.

Rob says ” I’m really excited about this group already and the potential of what they can achieve”.

We believe at Kitchen Challenge HQ that we can truly motivate and inspire people to think differently about themselves whatever their background via the challenges that are tested during this 8 week course. With added time for individuals to reflect, with a strong team and individual engagement and by being positive we can see health and well being improve dramatically.

Do visit to see more about the work.





Christmas Stollen Recipe

Have a go at making a Christmas Stollen this year – here is a recipe that I use and love. Enjoy and Merry Christmas



Recipe taken from St Michael, Cooking for Christmas




25g fresh yeast

2tsb warm water

75g caster sugar

Pinch of salt

6tbs warm milk

2 tbs rum

Few drops of almond essence

400g strong plain flour

1 egg beaten

150g unsalted butter, softened

50g raisins

50g glace cherries, chopped, washed

50g currants

25g angelica, chopped

50g cut mixed peal

40g flaked almonds

Sifted icing sugar




  1. Blend the yeast in the water. If using dried yeast, add 1 teaspoon of the sugar and leave in a warm place until frothy. Dissolve 50g sugar and the salt in the milk. Add the rum, essence and yeast liquid.
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl, making a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture, egg, 75g softened butter cut into small pieces, and the fruits and nuts. Mix to a soft dough and knead for 10 minutes by hand, or 4-5 minutes in a large electric mixer fitted with a dough look.
  3. Replace the dough in the bowl, cover with oiled polythene or a damp cloth and put to rise in a warm place until doubled in size – about 2 hours.
  4. Knock back the dough and knead until smooth, then roll out to a rectangle about 30x20cm (12×8 inches).
  5. Melt the remaining butter and brush liberally over the dough; then sprinkle with the remaining caster sugar. Fold one long side over just beyond the centre and then the other long side to overlap the first piece well. Press lightly together and slightly taper the ends.
  6. Place on a greased baking sheet, brush with melted butter and leave in a warm place until almost doubled in size.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until well risen and browned. Cool on a wire tray. Before serving dredge heavily with sifted icing sugar and serve cut into fairly thin slices.


Debs – an amazing lady and case study Kitchen Challenge

This is Debs debs

A few years ago she did Kitchen Challenge She shone. She changed her life herself. Kitchen Challenge nudged, guided and helped her to work a few things out for herself.

She very kindly has this open message for your all. Thank you Debs for sharing so openly:

Hi to everyone that is thinking about doing the Kitchen challenge or who are already doing it. My name is Debra, but everyone calls me Debs, I would like to tell you what Kitchen Challenge did for me. First I will tell you a little bit about my past.

My childhood was ok, but in my teenage years a lot of bad things happened to me, one was being bullied. I didn’t get the help that I needed and I carried these traumas around with me. I started to drink as it gave me confidence, so I thought at the time. The drinking gradually got worse as time went by. I went through a rocky marriage and two really bad relationships, the only good thing that came out of all that were my 3 children.

My drinking escalated in my late 30’s, I then started to take drugs. To cut a very long story short, I ended up losing everything and became homeless living on the streets. After a year and a half living rough, I decided to seek help, ended up in and out of detox 4 times, finally I hit my rock bottom and managed to get into Rehab and there I received the right help which I was longing for.

I decided not to go back to London and decided to stay in Cheltenham and concentrate on getting back on feet and to rebuild the relationships I had lost with my children. Before all of this happened to me, I worked in the catering business and always wanted to do an NVQ in catering.

After rehab I went into a dry house, were there are rules in place, I needed this as I had to get a structure in place for me to move forward. Whilst in the dry house, my project worker told about the Kitchen Challenge and would I be interested in going on the course as she knew how desperate I was to get back into catering. I jumped at the chance, the course was amazing, built up my confidence, help me communicate with others and work as a team, I found out I had skills which I didn’t know I had, really gave me that boost I needed. The course really changed my outlook on life for the better and I’ve never looked back, I can’t thank Rob Rees enough for this opportunity. I went on and did level 3 in professional cookery and worked full time at the Star Bistro. I also had a couple of friends on the same course who choice different careers paths and are doing extremely well, this course benefits everyone, whether you want to be a mechanic or work in a shop.

I wish everyone the best of luck for the future

Debs x