Three weeks ago he was cooking brunch as head chef in a stylish Caulfield café. Now Arnel Quinoneza is pumping out as many free meals as possible in the FareShare kitchen.

When COVID-19 slashed his shifts, Arnel joined the FareShare team under the state Government’s Working For Victoria program.

“I’m loving it,” said Arnel. “It’s a completely different challenge. The motivations are quite different compared to working for a for profit organisation.

“It’s more rewarding. It’s more physically demanding. FareShare is a massive operation – it’s amazing to watch. The kitchens run like clockwork.

“The FareShare chefs are the best. I’m learning every day. I’m just following orders to keep production up,” says Arnel who has been acting as a supervisor in our pastry kitchen.

Arnel volunteered at FareShare for five years only stopping in 2017 after his wife had a baby and his paid work at Peter Rowland catering was very busy. He still volunteers each Christmas to help cook and serve 400 vulnerable people at Father Bob’s annual Christmas lunch.

“I’m so grateful to FareShare,” says Arnel. “They picked me up straightaway. Besides getting work, I like to do something that’s not for profit and uses my skills.”

FareShare is also grateful to the Victorian Government for supporting a seamless shift from volunteers to a paid workforce during COVID-19.  

FareShare’s kitchen manager Crickette DerJeu said it was fantastic to be able to provide support for hospitality workers to keep our kitchens open during the pandemic.

“Having Arnel on the team is an absolute bonus,” she said. “Arnel and all the chefs we have engaged with Government support are putting their skills to use in making a real difference to vulnerable people,”