PHOTO: Apprentice chef Alex Kolberg and head chef Kristian Livolsi prep for service in the restaurant’s kitchen (ABC Adelaide: Brett Williamson)
The only lack of vision Adelaide’s blind apprentice chef is limited from is from those who did not employ him according to Alex Kolberg’s new boss.
For two and a half years Mr Kolberg searched for employment, only to be told time and time again that he was unemployable due to his limited vision.
Finally one Adelaide restaurateur gave him a chance and they now both believe it is the best move they have ever made.
The smile does not leave 20-year-old Mr Kolberg face as he sits outside his workplace and talks about his job.
Mr Kolberg was born with a genetic disorder that left him legally blind, but he has always loved cooking.
After leaving school, he completed a Certificate 3 in Hospitality.
He worked with the Royal Society for the Blind’s employment services to achieve his goal of becoming a chef.
“Every employer I went to didn’t want to give me a chance and a couple of them even said straight out ‘you are just not capable’,” Mr Kolberg said.
“I didn’t agree with that so I just kept going.”
I see him as a gift to our business
Chef Kristian Livolsi
He volunteered at a cafe for one year to prove that he could work in the industry.
“Giving up doesn’t solve anything – if you want to get somewhere in life you have to take the steps.”
Six months ago Mr Kolberg met Kristian Livolsi, owner and head chef at The Taxpayer restaurant in Adelaide.
From the first day Mr Kolberg was training to prepare dishes.
“Within a month or two I was cooking the food,” Mr Kolberg said.
‘I think people are gutless’
Mr Livolsi does not mince words when he talks about why he believed it took two and a half years for Mr Kolberg to gain employment.
“People have stereotypes … it just shows you how shallow people are,” Mr Livolsi said.
Mr Livolsi said at first he had some occupational health and safety concerns placing Mr Kolberg in a small kitchen, surrounded by cookers and sharp knives.
“There are challenges, but in the same token he is challenging himself so I am challenging myself to bring him through the ranks.”
Mr Livolsi laughs about the occasional bump he receives from Mr Kolberg as they shuffle around the deep fryer.
“This kid has everything against him and everyone at work loves him for that reason and he actually influences the rest of the culture.
“I see him as a gift to our business and it is a massive loss for those people who didn’t give him a chance before.”