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Young People Breaking Down the Barriers in Food Industry


Young People Breaking Down the Barriers in Food Industry

Millennial foodies shaking up Canberra's food scene instead of moving to Sydney, Melbourne

Working in hospitality is a popular part-time job for many young Australians.

But the tides are turning, with many young Canberrans choosing to stay in the industry as a long-term career.

The end goal? To open their own restaurant and bar — as a full-time job in the industry becomes a more viable and prestigious career option.

As a result, these days many Canberra venues are either owned or managed by people under the age of 30.

Meet some of the young entrepreneurs who are driving Canberra's food revival.

The pop-up: Gus Raddon, 23, Ross McQuinn, 25, Mark Brook, 24

Three men stand behind a restaurant counter.

PHOTO: Blood n Bones is a pop-up restaurant owned by Gus Raddon, Ross McQuinn and Mark Brook. (ABC News: Alkira Reinfrank)

Mates since they were teenagers, Ross McQuinn, Mark Brook and Gus Raddon are trying to change food conventions.

All in their 20s, they run the pop-up restaurant, Blood n Bones, aimed at converting Canberrans to offal and offcuts.

The men met while working in bars and restaurants as teenagers, but this is their first foray into business ownership.

"Canberra is attracting a lot of people to stay and do hospitality jobs for the first time in a while," Mr Raddon said.

"Whereas the general trend would have been to get to a certain level here and then move to Melbourne or Sydney if you wanted to pursue it more seriously."

A pop-up restaurant allows them to test out their experimental food ideas in multiple locations — without the cost of setting up a brick and mortar restaurant.

"At a relatively young age, it is certainly hard to throw however much money into a full venue fitout," Mr McQuinn said.

"So this is a really good way for us to hone our skills, practice running our own idea and running our own event, before ... taking that next step."

The trio have run two pop-up events so far.

"Pop-ups gives people like us an opportunity to get in, without having to find investors," Mr Brook said.

"The best thing about pop-ups is we get to do our own ideas, we don't have to take anybody else's lead on it."

The cafe: Caleb Evans, 28

Caleb Evans is co-owner of Teddy Picker's in Campbell.

PHOTO: Caleb Evans is co-owner of Teddy Picker's in Campbell. (ABC News: Alkira Reinfrank)

Caleb Evans has had a hand in hospitality for 11 years — working across the board, as everything from a head chef to a barista.

The 28-year-old opened Teddy Picker's with three friends in Canberra's inner-north late last year.

"A creative surge has obviously come through, where people not only have the creativity to do stuff, but also the drive and put their money where their mouth is," he said.

"I think that is showing through now, with a lot of young business owners stepping out there and having a crack."

He said it was extremely difficult to open up a cafe as a young person, but if you were passionate it could work.

"You could not do more hours than we do, and you could not be more broke than we are — but it's absolutely worth it," he said.

The coffee shop: Tim Knights, 24, and Tristan Morthorpe, 26

Tim Knights and Tristan Morthorpe at Atlas.

PHOTO: Tim Knights and Tristan Morthorpe opened Atlas three months ago. March 2017 (ABC News: Alkira Reinfrank )

Canberra's city and inner-north are well known for their food offerings, but the district of Gungahlin has slowly jumped on the ACT's burgeoning food and coffee wagon.

Tim Knights and Tristin Morthorpe saw Gungahlin as the perfect location to open a small artisan coffee shop — Atlas.

Between them they have two decades worth of experience in the industry, but they said the support they received from the "hospitality family" enabled them to open their first business.

"It's just that support of that little hospitality family that makes it just that bit easier to make that first step," Mr Knights said.

"More people are coming into the hospitality scene and they are expecting just to be there while they are at uni ... but then they are realising that there is a lot lot going on there."

Opening a small business is no easy feat, no matter what age, but Mr Knights said his age enabled him to work the long hours.

"The thing about young people is they can pull 70 and 80 hour weeks, and offer a good product and then still have time after they have pulled the massive week to come up with cool new ideas."


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