Our Team

Fiona Baxter

Fiona Baxter

Fiona studied cookery at La Varenne École De Cuisine in Paris in 1980 and then spent 4 years cooking at Jenny Ferguson’s You & Me Restaurant in the Sydney CBD (with Stefano Manfredi). A series of cafés followed, including Bronte Cafe (the first on the Bronte Beach strip), which she opened in 1985 and ran for 14 years while also operating wholesale cake business, Epicurean Kitchen. In 2000, Fiona obtained a Certificate III in Travel & Tourism and gave guided tours that included advise on which restaurants to visit. She worked briefly as production chef for Jones the Grocer then ran Fideli Cafe & Food Store in Waverley from 2002-2006, making everything onsite. After a brief stint of food prep and styling for TV, she landed at Sydney Seafood School in 2008.

“I don't really remember anyone ‘teaching’ me to cook, but always accompanied my mother shopping and was active in deciding what to buy and cook. My grandmother and aunts always cooked from scratch and there were always two home cooked desserts at dinner and freshly baked cakes and biscuits at afternoon tea. I remember making biscuit dough at home by myself after school when I was quite young, in primary school, and the neighbour cooking it for me because I wasn't allowed to turn the oven on by myself! She also provided jam, so I suspect it wasn't so tasty! Why do I like cooking? I guess I like feeding people - I always cook too much!  I enjoy putting different ingredients together and love trying something I’ve never tried before. The possibilities fascinate me, I don't really have a favourite dish, as I always want to cook something new. I love traditions, but always do what you’re ‘not supposed to do’ and try out new recipes on guests. I have a mega cookbook library but am not faithful to any one author. Cookbooks are often bedtime reading for me, with a huge pile beside my bed. I do like Vegetables from an Italian Garden as it combines gardening and great recipes for all those delicious Italian vegetables like artichokes and radicchio. Bitter by Jennifer McLagan is another favourite, as are Peter Gordon's books because of his interesting flavour combinations. And I love almost any baking book.

I love working at Sydney Seafood School because no day is the same, we're always learning from our guest chefs. We work with a great team and constantly meet new people through our guests. It's a pleasure and a great reward to see that they have a fabulous time while they are with us.”

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Jen Vickery

Jen Vickery

Jen has worked in hospitality since 1982, both bar work and front-of-house in restaurants including Station Masters Cottage (St Leonard’s), La Grillade and The Red Centre (Crows Nest), and Annie Parmentier’s Lunch in Castlecrag. She liked the hospitality aspect of being front-of-house but also wanted to understand the bigger picture, so enrolled in Commercial Cookery at East Sydney Tech (now TAFE) in 1991.

“From age 10, my brother and I would take turns to create a monthly ‘dinner party’ for our parents with handmade menus and no assistance in the kitchen (he went on to join MasterChef and I went on to join Sydney Seafood School). In my teens, I’d bake a cake each week after Saturday sport for us to have for school lunches. In 1985 I took my first overseas trip, was bitten by the ‘travel bug’, and still need to travel at least twice a year – with those trips always including plenty of eating! After a recent trip to the Middle East, my current favourite cookbook is Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem - I love all cookbooks that combine cooking and travel, including Coastline by Lucio Galletto and India by Christine Manfield. I had my first Seafood School experience in 1990 at a class called ‘Crabaganza’, which later morphed into Chilli Crab, still one of our most popular recipes. I joined the Sydney Seafood School team 17 years later and have loved the opportunity to do live-crosses for morning television and Seafood-School-On-the-Road demonstrations at seafood festivals up and down the NSW coast, as well as hosting classes in the School.

I love taking away the fear of preparing and cooking seafood that so many Sydney Seafood School guests arrive with - I love seeing the satisfaction they experience when they section a crab or strip a squid for the first time and then their joy in eating what they’ve created.”

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Jeff Chandler

Jeff Chandler

Jeff grew up helping his mother with her catering business and, in 2005 (as soon as he was legally old enough to work), took an after-school job as a kitchenhand at the Seafood School. After completing his Bachelor of Industrial Design at UNSW he did an internship with Breville as a junior designer, staying on as a contractor testing equipment and recipes. He briefly flirted with the idea of a career in commercial cookery, spending 4 months in the kitchen of Ormeggio at The Spit, before completing a Master of Commerce & Marketing degree at Macquarie University. Jeff continued working at the Seafood School through all of this, graduating from kitchenhand to assistant to presenter and personally installing the salmon skin wallpaper on the auditorium during the 2009 refurbishment! He now has a fulltime ‘day job’ in sales, but remains part of the Sydney Seafood School team and is using his industrial design experience to assist with the plans for the new Seafood School at the redeveloped Sydney Fish Market.

“Mum would prep for her catering jobs at home and I would always want to help. I think I was wrapping spring rolls and Vietnamese rolls by the age of 7 or 8. I love cooking because there’s always something to learn, processes and techniques that inspire me to experiment with new things. I enjoy the whole process and find it relaxing. I like the way it brings friends and family together, and the challenge of pleasing them with delicious food they may never have tried before. I love all different sorts of food; pan-seared scallops are a go-to - with cauliflower and onion bhajis, cauliflower puree and curry salt, because of the different flavours and textures that just work so well together; or something as simple (and delicious) as miso-glazed Patagonian toothfish or a really great steak. 

I love working at Sydney Seafood School because I enjoy teaching people and passing on the techniques I've learnt working alongside so many great chefs over the years – I love helping make their cooking experiences easier, more relaxing and more enjoyable. Having worked at Sydney Seafood School for so long it just feels like cooking at home and having 50 people over for a good time.

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Brigid Treloar

Brigid Treloar

Brigid studied Home Economics & Food Studies at TAFE in the 1970s, following up with an Advanced Diploma of Hospitality & Event Management in 2017. She’s taught at Sydney Seafood School since the early-90s and lectured at Le Cordon Bleu since 2016. Her work as a freelance food consultant over many years has seen her advise companies such as Goodman Fielder, Jalna, Sunrice and Kikkoman on product and recipe development, as well as working in food styling and photography. She's written eight cookbooks (including Steaming, Healthy Soy Cookbook and The Australian Women’s Weekly Japanese Cookbook), and is the co-author of another three, has been published in newspapers and magazines (such as The Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Women's Weekly), cooked on television and been a regular presenter on radio stations ABC, 2UE and 2GB. She’s reviewed restaurants, judged aquaculture, bakery, pasta and olive oil for RAS NSW, and was made Chair of Judges for Specialty Foods in their Fine Food Competition in 2017.

“I’ve been cooking for as long as I can remember. My mother, along with an aunt who came every Tuesday for a 'cooking day', were early teachers. We were a large family, so had live-in cooks who came from different countries, which meant I was exposed to quite an eclectic mix of cuisines from an early age - and they were all great teachers. I find cooking relaxing, I love it because it’s universal, we all need to eat, so it’s a great way to involve everyone and I often learn new things from the most unexpected places and people. I don’t have a favourite cookbook, but I’m a lazy cook so I like simple, practical recipes. I like all sorts of food – though I have worked with Japanese ingredients and companies for many years and enjoy translating their (often complex) cuisine into something more approachable for the Australian cook. I’ve also done a lot of work over the years with the Kosher community and ran my own sculptured cake business for 10 years. I’m a qualified horticulturist, so also very keen on edible gardens.

I love working at Sydney Seafood School because of the diversity of people I meet – the interaction, sharing, constant learning and watching our guests’ reactions and pleasant surprise at their own accomplishments at the end of the day.”

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Grace Milinthangkul

Grace Milinthangkul

Grace emigrated from Thailand in 2009 and started working in hospitality, including a Newtown Thai restaurant, Sushi Inn in Randwick, and preparing around 500 portion-controlled meals per day for Easy Eating weight loss program. She worked her way up from kitchen hand, through the ranks to kitchen manager and joined the Seafood School team in 2013.

“I love home cooking, for the authenticity, the tradition and the fresh produce. I grew up with my grandmother’s home cooking and for me it's just about the love and caring that comes out when you cook for your family or friends. I’ve been cooking since I was very young, I always helped my grandmother prepare our food. I enjoy Thai food of course, but also Chinese and Japanese. Maybe because I know more about them and have more confidence using those ingredients. It’s hard to say what my favourite dish is, but the one I cook most often is larb pork (a spicy Thai salad of pork mince and herbs that’s quick, healthy, really refreshing and full of flavour). 

I love working at Sydney Seafood School because of the food knowledge I’ve gained and all the different techniques I’ve learnt from our guest chefs and the other team members. And I love being able to pass that on to our guests.”

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Vicki Devane

Vicki Devane

Vicki's food career began in the mid-70s with an after-school job at The French Chef, a traiteur with outlets in Rose Bay, Mosman and Bondi, where she loved making 20-litre quiche mixes and the like. She went on to run the kitchen at live music venue Charlie Brown’s Wine Bar on Young St, followed by food and beverage roles as diverse as cooking traditional 3-course dinners at the CWA headquarters in Potts Points and working behind the cocktail bar of the nearby Texas Tavern. After the obligatory backpacking tour of Europe, Vicki continued cooking for the likes of Circular Quay’s Gallipoli Memorial Club, The Burdekin (one of Sydney’s early gastro-pubs), Centennial Parkland Café, Taylor Square Restaurant and Hyde Park Barracks. She joined Sydney Seafood School in 2018 and continues to operate a private catering business.

“My mum started teaching me to cook savoury dishes when I was about 6, and her best friend (who was a great sweets cook) taught me to make scones, cakes and desserts. I love cooking - happy or sad - I enjoy growing produce, prep’ing it, smelling and tasting it but best of all sharing it with others. If I have to nominate just one favourite cookbook, it’s Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion because so many nationalities are represented, I love the way others are credited where due, and those extra little recipes and tips in the side column! I cook all sorts of cuisines, but some of my all-time favourites are fresh Asian salads with grilled seafood, duck confit, and curries made from scratch (particularly those from Sri Lanka).

I love working at Sydney Seafood School because of the like-minded people in our team – and I love sharing my passion and inspiring others to enjoy preparing their own food.”

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Vera Fusanto

Vera Fusanto

Vera started working at the Seafood School in 2018. She was born in Indonesia and immigrated to Australia in 2016. Her mother was Cantonese, and she says:

“My mother taught me to cook when I was a teenager and most Chinese people will tell you how great Cantonese women are in the kitchen, so I think that's why I love cooking and food – it’s in my DNA. I always want to hear comments from everyone who tries my cooking - good or bad, whatever they have to say will help me to improve. I’ve never studied cookery (which I regret), but I believe that what I need most to be a good cook is passion – and I have plenty of that. I love seafood more than any other food, especially prawns and crab. The easiest and tastiest prawn dish, which I cook often, is butter prawns … and for mud crab the best is my mother’s recipe with red chilli and fermented soybeans.

I love working at Sydney Seafood School because of the food, of course, but also because of the friendly environment – among the team, but also with our guests who really enjoy cooking as much as I do.”

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Romy Fung

Romy Fung

Romy started working at the Seafood School in 2014 in the fulltime role of Bookings Coordinator as well as some weekend shifts as a kitchenhand. She left her fulltime role in 2017 to explore other opportunities, including a role at specialty food wholesaler Two Providores, but has stayed on at the School as an assistant at weekend classes.

“I love being around food. On my own I find cooking can be relaxing while also being cathartic, and with friends it can be the catalyst for lots of laughter and connection. I learnt to cook by watching – family members as well as plenty of cooking shows. But even more so, I’ve learnt to cook by trial and error. I seek inspiration in lots of different cookbooks - too many to have just one favourite, but I do prefer cookbooks with photos of the recipes, after all you eat with your eyes first! My favourite dish to cook is sea urchin pasta. There’s nothing like foraging for your own food: diving to collect sea urchins, cleaning them on the front porch with a summer breeze and then tucking in to enjoy all your hard work. It’s a multi-sensory experience!

I love working at Sydney Seafood School because it’s so rewarding seeing guests who are unfamiliar with a particular ingredient or cooking method leave feeling confident and proud of the dishes they’ve created.”

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Amelia Maait

Amelia Maait

Amelia's first food job was at Sweeties Ice Cream Parlour at Birkenhead Point while she was still at school; she also spent Saturday’s working at a Lebanese food stall at Paddington Markets. After school she studied fashion, working nights in the kitchen and behind the bar at her local Pizza Hut (when Pizza Hut was still a ‘real restaurant’). She carved out a successful career in fashion, as a buyer, designer and lecturer, while exploring her passion for food through attending cooking classes as well as conducting some for children in her home. She joined the Seafood School office team in 2014, ordering all of the produce for classes, and also began working weekend shifts at classes. She now oversees the School’s corporate event bookings and still enjoys getting ‘hands-on’ in the School.

“I love cooking because I love sharing food with everyone around me! I watched my parents cook as a child and was always fascinated, but I didn’t really start cooking until high school. My home science teacher in year 7 was Italian and I remember being over the moon when he taught us to make Bolognese sauce. The following week we learnt pineapple upside-down cake – and I made both of those dishes for many years! I love Gourmet Traveller Magazine, every month it inspires me to cook something new and to challenge myself with new ingredients. For over 25 years, a group of friends and I have hosted regular dinner parties with all recipes taken from the latest issue of Gourmet Traveller.  The host prepares the main course, and everyone else takes responsibility for canapé, entrée and dessert. Members of the ‘Gourmet Traveller Group’ are now living all around the world so we’ve had dinner parties in Fiji, Italy, Singapore and Bali, as well as Sydney, Canberra and Perth.

I love working at Sydney Seafood School because of the people and the food. Everyone that works here has a deep love for food and I feel at home among likeminded people.”

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Erin Jones

Erin Jones

Erin took a kitchenhand and waitressing job at her local Italian restaurant (Papadino’s in Katoomba) while still at school. But quickly discovered that her passion lay in the cooking side of things, helping the pizzaiolo prepare dough, whipping up Napoletana sauce when they ran out mid-service and being on dessert duty. After 12 years in the construction industry, Erin decided to follow her passion and joined the Seafood School office team in 2019. Like all of the School’s administration staff, Erin also enjoys assisting guests at classes.

“From a young age I would hover around the kitchen watching my parents and grandparents as they prepared meals. Each of them had their own style and favourite flavours, which I found fascinating - at times the would be cooking the same recipe in very different ways! I find cooking is a fantastic way to express my own creative side – and I enjoy discovering new flavours, skills and ingredients. It can be a relaxing solitary pastime, or a fun social one, depending on how I feel. But most of all I’m excited when people appreciate how much love I’ve put into creating a meal. My grandmother came from Japan and I love Japanese food, as it’s a cuisine I grew up with. I’m also keen to learn more about it and one of my go-to cookbooks is Tokyo Cult Recipes by Maori Murota, which was given to me just before my first trip to Japan in 2018 where I then tasted some of the recipes that I’d read about. When I cook for friends I enjoy showcasing my Japanese heritage and one of my favourite dishes is pork gyoza with lots of ginger. It’s a crowd-pleaser and the filling can be changed to incorporate so many different flavours.  

I love working at Sydney Seafood School because of the people – each team member is passionate about food and cooking, but also passionate about supporting each other. They are a wonderful family with great life experience who teach me a lot.”

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Shiona Williams

Shiona Williams

Shiona studied cookery at East Sydney TAFE for 6 months in the early ‘90s between Economics/Asian Studies at ANU and Architecture at UTS, and now says: “I wish I’d stayed on the food track then!” Food was never far away in her life; in primary school she entered pikelets and scones in the local Camden Show (once winning 2nd prize for her scones), she did Year 10 work experience at Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine, and waitressed at The Australian Club while at university. Shiona joined the Seafood School office team in 2017 as an administrative assistant and now overseas the ordering of all produce and equipment for classes, as well as assisting in the School on weekends.

“I just love good food! I love learning about different foods and cuisines – there’s not much I won’t try. I enjoy the whole process of cooking: deciding what to cook by trawling through recipe books, sourcing ingredients and, finally, following the recipe and enjoying my time in the kitchen (I’m a recipe follower, not an improviser). I think it’s also about making my family and friends happy through something as simple as cooking for them. My grandmother was a great cook and loved to provide for her family – nothing was ever too much trouble. I first spent time in the kitchen with her, mainly baking, when I was quite young. I hope I’ve inherited a little bit of her innate nurturing and hospitality. She would set the table for breakfast the night before and cover it with a net cloth. She loved to entertain and was always trying new recipes – I remember her Margaret Fulton Cookbook open on the bench, along with Greta Anna for special occasions. I’ve had lots of favourites cookbooks at different times in my life – Jill Dupleix’s Old Food and New Food were great in the ‘90s when I first started cooking meals and entertaining rather than just baking cakes. My go-to now is absolutely Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion – it’s so comprehensive, a great reference as well as full of fantastic recipes. I also often use recipes torn out of newspapers and magazines – I have a very messy and overflowing recipe compendium. I don’t really have a favourite dish to cook, though I do I love slow cooking and definitely lemon as a flavouring – anything with lemon is delicious!!

I love coming to work at a real fish market every day – it’s quite special and I feel very lucky. I love being in an industry that gives so much joy, to me and to others. Being surrounded by people who love food as much as I do and that I’m constantly learning from. At Sydney Seafood School I’m finally working in the field I should have pursued from the beginning!”

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Jack Hood

Jack Hood

Jack joined the Seafood School team in 2019, when he enrolled to study Business and Law at UTS and, although this is his first food job, he did interview local restaurateurs on the community radio show he hosted while still at school in Coffs Harbour. Experienced or not, like all of the Sydney Seafood School team, Jack enjoys cooking and eating.

“My first real cooking experience was making cakes with my grandmother when I was around five or so. Now cooking excites me because there are so many options, there’s always something different to try, a new ingredient, cuisine or cooking style. My favourite cookbook is probably Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals - I’m a uni student, so being able to cook something quickly that’s relatively healthy is a God send. And my favourite dishes are lasagne (comfort food that really reminds me of home) and the Seafood School’s Moroccan tagine - it’s become one of my favourite dishes since I tasted it at a class. 

I love working at Sydney Seafood School because of the range of food I’m exposed to and the people I meet. We have dishes with flavours from across the globe, and guest chefs that give me a taste of restaurants I might not otherwise get to experience.”

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Ethan Parker

Ethan Parker

Ethan joined the Seafood School team in 2019 while he studies Business at UTS. He’s never worked in food before but enjoys cooking for relaxation.

“My mum started teaching me to cook when I was about 10 years old and now I find that cooking helps to take my mind off other things, it’s calming, especially when I have exams coming up. My favourite cookbooks (and cooking shows) are Gordon Ramsay’s; I find it easy to follow his simple, straightforward style, and I really like the way he brings out the flavour of each ingredient he uses. And my favourite seafood dish is salt and pepper squid because it’s so easy and tasty.

I love working at Sydney Seafood School because it’s such a positive place - the fresh food made by the team and our guest chefs is a plus too!”

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Roberta Muir

Roberta Muir

Roberta completed a Bachelor’s degree in Literature and Linguistics and a Diploma of Natural Therapies & Herbalism in the 1980s, waitressing throughout her studies. Her first full-time job was in sales for a small-scale poultry processor. This led to a sales manager role with King Island Dairy then, in 1997, her ‘dream job’, managing the 8-year-old cooking school at Sydney Fish Market. Roberta obtained a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery in 2000 and a Master of Arts degree in Gastronomy from the University of Adelaide in 2003. She’s the author of 500 Cheeses and the Sydney Seafood School Cookbook, co-author of Wild Weed Pie (with Janni Kyritsis), A Sardinian Cookbook (with Giovanni Pilu) and A Lombardian Cookbook (with Alessandro Pavoni) and has written for Australian and international publications including Australian Gourmet Traveller, Jetstar Inflight magazine and Singapore’s Wine & Dine. She has reviewed restaurants for Australian Gourmet Traveller and The SMH Good Food Guide and judged in the Restaurant & Catering Awards for Excellence as well as NSW and Victorian RAS food awards.

“I remember spending the money an aunt sent for my 12th birthday to take a bunch of friends to a local café - that was the first time I experienced the thrill of sharing a food discovery with others. For me food is all about sharing. Whether it’s around a beautifully set table, on a picnic rug or writing recipes for my Food-Wine-Travel newsletter … nothing gives me more pleasure than sharing the food I love with other people. My mother always cooked fresh food for our family, but it was largely the meat-and-three-veg of 1970s Anglo-Celtic suburban Australia, so my first foray into exotic cuisine came in my late teens via The Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbooks, I read them like novels and a lifelong love of recipes and cooking was born. I love all food – but I usually cook simple dishes with Mediterranean flavours. I still have many of the early Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbooks in my now extensive food library and, while I like creating new recipes, I always refer back to the classics for guidance: the Time Life series, Damien Pignolet for anything French, Frank Camorra on Spanish and my Italian chef friends for their own regional specialties (plus Stephanie Alexander, Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson for everything!).

I love working at Sydney Seafood School because of the inspiring people I share the School with – from all walks of life and backgrounds and with such diverse experience and expertise. What binds us all together is our passion for good food and for sharing our knowledge – for inspiring everyone to eat well together. I feel incredibly blessed to come to work every day with such a dedicated and fun team!

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