New hope in the kitchen

YEAR 10 students from Nepean High School at Emu Plains, took some MasterChef-type lessons with Panthers on the Prowl at Penrith's Outback Steakhouse recently.

They learned skills which they pitted against Panthers player, and amateur cook, Michael Jennings.

Panthers on the Prowl works with students having problems coping with school work.

Panthers players act as mentors, while students participate in classes during school time, but in a less formal atmosphere.

"They see and experience things outside the normal structure," Panthers on the Prowl teacher Graham Collins said.

"The competition at Outback Steakhouse increases their understanding of what's around; to offer them paths to employment."

Jennings said Panthers had been involved in the cooking program for years.

"It's a great program for kids who can get involved with our players," he said.

"They want a change in their lives and being with our players helps them do that."

Outback Steakhouse Penrith's proprietor, Mike Hicks, said his restaurant was glad to be able to help.

"Most of these students have excellent help here, particularly with professional Panthers players providing good role models," Mr Hicks said.

"We're introducing these young people to a workplace: in this case what it's like to be a chef.

"But it's also about having fun and getting involved."

Before training, Mr Hicks explained Outback Steakhouse's food policy.

"Ninety-five per cent of our food is made from scratch," he said.

"For instance, we make our chocolate sauce here.

"Every week 2500 people come to this restaurant, so everything is about timing and attention to detail."

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