So here I am and no going back. There are sixteen of us all stupid kids from shitkicking suburbs we all sleep in the shearers’ shed. It’s an old building but they’ve fixed it up. I am on the top bunk Hunter is on the bottom Hunter is from Coolaroo he likes death metal and wants to be a traffic controller but now he is going to be a chef like me. I won’t tell you what he done I don’t think it’s right to tell you what everybody done I won’t tell you what I done either. A year below me just turned seventeen most of us are sixteen or seventeen I think I’m the oldest here.
        Cook School is a nice place but that doesn’t mean it’s a holiday if that’s what you’re thinking we get up at six! An hour and a half in the minibus from Melbourne. On that first Sunday they showed us around. It is very big the land I mean there are sheep and cows and pigs and chickens we’ll learn to kill and cook them all a big vegetable garden too which is organic that means they don’t put chemicals on it. There is every kind of vegetable and herb there you should see it. There are fruit trees too maybe twenty different kinds.
        The Assistant Chef’s name is Fabian he’s the one that took us around. A red nose and pox scars on his cheeks. He says we won’t see Head Chef who I’m already scared of till he comes up next week. Don’t be scared Fabian says he hasn’t killed anyone yet. Head Chef is famous in the business and has done pretty well for himself even though he is from a crappy suburb like me. He’s the one with the telly show. Someone’s phone rang give it here Fabian said. Everyone had to hand in their phones then he didn’t say when we’d get them back.
        After that the walk around I mean Fabian said we could have some free time before dinner. I didn’t know what to do I had no friends yet I walked up the hill at the back of the property there’s a cow track there that zigzags up to a tree about halfway up a fat old gum the bark all rubbed the ground trampled and dry a fallen log for a seat. I stopped and looked around. It’s a pretty place. The main house down there a big old homestead a tree an oak I think in the yard the bunkhouse the new kitchen building raw timber and thin corrugated iron in front of that the vegetable garden the chookpen the fishtanks gravel paths the sun going down a hot summer’s day the little insects out and right across the valley into the distance the air all mellow and gold and gold flashes coming off the windscreens of the cars way out on the highway. I could hear voices talking too but low no-one had yelled yet everyone was stepping lightly and from the big shed over the other side of the hill a piece of machinery an angle grinder I think. It felt strange all right leaving home like that but no regrets what I done coming here was a good thing what else was I going to do? That was the wrong crowd they were right.
        I spent a long time up on the hill no-one came up looking eventually I heard Fabian calling out for dinner and saw everyone down below. But before I went down I had a picture in my mind let me tell you about it of a restaurant my own restaurant very modern somewhere down by the docks and Mum and Dad and my sister Tash are my special guests at my best table and Mum I kiss her cheek and Dad I shake his hand and when I show my sister Tash her seat I pull it out like the movies and she says thank you Zac and when I snap my fingers the waiters do what I tell them bring that plate yes Chef no take it back another one now a clean one please. So there’s a dream who knows if it will come true but that’s the dream I had that day when I went back down the hill.