By 17, these students have a solid education and work experience too

After one year of skills training in hair dressing, 16-year-old Irene is contemplating a career in hair styling which she says is very fun and interesting. S.S. Kanesan/TheStar

Arun is a picture of concentration as he finishes off the mise en place for the day’s lunch service. Once done, he turns to the stove to start on the pasta sauce for one of the day’s lunch dishes. He may only be 17 but Arun is already a chef-in-training at the commercial kitchen of eat X dignity, an eatery in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur. His daily tasks in the kitchen range from prepping and cooking, stock-taking and drawing up the work schedule for the 10 or so staff at the eatery. Sometimes, he is put in charge of the lunch or dinner service.

The teen dreams of furthering his studies in culinary arts. His idols are British chefs Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay.

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