Shaking it up

WHILE our Olympic athletes have been displaying jaw-dropping feats of precision and skill on an international stage, Queanbeyan hospitality gun Ryan Spiteri has been locked away with his own intensive training program.

He's preparing to battle the best of the best in restaurant service at the nation's most prestigious skills expo, the WorldSkills Australia Competition, at the Sydney Showground later this month.

On his days off from a hospitality traineeship with the Southern Cross Club, the 22-year-old can be found at the CIT restaurant brushing up on his cocktails making skills, producing the perfect cup of coffee or getting a dramatic flambe on a crepe suzette.

By the time Thursday, August 30 rolls around, Mr Spiteri will have to produce these skills flawlessly, under the eyes of the judges, his fellow competitors, and thousands of onlookers.

"It will be pretty full on I reckon," he said."It's all open to the public and the judging will be tough, but I'm looking forward to the experience," he said.

Also on the list of challenges is blind tastings of different varieties of wine and spirits, with competitors required to correctly identify the drink in question.It's the kind of expertise he'll need if he's succeeds in his goal of working at a first-class international restaurant, where he'll be responsible for some of the world's finest food and wine.

The more cosmopolitan and international aspects of fine dining are what drew him to the industry in the first place, Mr Spiteri said.

"I just like the fact that you can take these skills and work anywhere in the world, and interact with people on a positive level each day," he said.As for what it takes to be the best:

"You've just got to be a friendly person and love what you do, and enjoy making a customer's dining experience memorable," he said.

His former mentor from CIT, teacher Milan Rajic, said Mr Spiteri was a "young man of purpose" and had the skills to succeed at the highest level.

The three-day WorldSkills Australia Competition will be held at Sydney Showground from Thursday, August 30 and will bring together 500 of Australia's elite trainees and apprentices - aged 15 to 25 - to fight for gold in 50 skill and trade categories, ranging from traditional trades of bricklaying and plumbing to other skilled professions such as fashion and jewellery design.

If Mr Spiteri is successful at the competition, he'll earn a spot on the Australian WorldSkills Team, known as the Skillaroos, with a chance to bring home a gold medal at the International WorldSkills Competition in Germany next year.

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