Ask any culinary arts student what their goal is and it will probably be to work with some of the great names in the culinary world.
This Saturday, 23 March, Culinary Arts (Level 5) class from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, in partnership with Good Neighbour and Te Aranui Youth Trust, will be participating in a rescue food cook-off with some of the Bay’s most renowned chefs.
The cook-off is part of the Tauranga’s ground-breaking Food For Thought: A Rescued Food Festival at Our Place Tauranga.
The class is led by renowned chef Peter Blakeway. According to Peter, the cook-off will be the perfect opportunity for students to interact and work closely with some of the industry’s most respected chefs.
“This event is all about the students,” says Peter.
“They’re ready for this – to organise, set up the kitchen, cook and plan the menu alongside six of the best chefs in the Bay. They will need to communicate and work alongside experienced head chefs on the day of the event and this will be a great way to showcase the skills that they’ve been honing for the past two years.
“I’m really excited and proud of my bunch. The group that wins not only would have sold the most food to raise money for charity but will also have bragging rights!” says Peter.
The event will give students the opportunity to show off their skills, but will also serve as an assessment that will count towards their final mark.
“Doing their assessments like this means they get to work off-site and interact with chefs who are hiring – it’s like a live interview,” says Peter.
“By June, they’ll be more than ready to start working in the industry.”
Peter says the competition will give them a taste of reality and the seriousness of the industry.
“This is an opportunity for us to get the industry to understand what we’re doing and the quality of students that come through our culinary course.
“From an industry point of view, they do understand that these students come out being equipped with the right kind of skills that will make them employable and part of that process is putting them out there doing events like this as part of their assessment. Industry is not only looking for graduates with just hard skills and knowledge, but also soft skills - communication, speed, teamwork, ability to work under pressure and accuracy. Doing a real-life charity event projects present real pressure and all those skills mentioned will show on that day,” says Peter.
Apart from his job as a tutor, peter has published a cookbook, is New Zealand’s only brand ambassador for Everdure barbeque by Heston Blumenthal.
“Being in Blumenthal’s team means that I am connected to his team all over the world in Australia, UK and the US – all of which are highly beneficial to students making industry connections worldwide.
“We [tutors] spend every available opportunity to spend as much time in industry as possible so that we are up to date with the current skills and knowledge to help prepare our students for the industry.
“We also work on building mentor-mentee relationships with students that doesn’t stop when they walk out of the class as graduates, but is ongoing right to getting them into their next job. I still talk to one of my first head-chefs from nearly 30 years ago!”
Culinary Arts student Catherine Papesch, who has been appointed head chef for the event, says: “I love the challenge because it’s for a good cause. I love helping families, helping kids for schools, etc. Food rescue is a brilliant idea!
“I’m really excited and I think it could be good for my career, especially getting to work alongside top head chefs from the Bay and Good Neighbour.”
Pippa Kerrisk, who is also in the class and will be participating in the event, says that the course prepared her well for the experience. Pippa will be joining Clarence Tauranga as a chef after she completes her qualification.
“I feel like having real world experience is really important – to be out of the classroom and have that time out in the industry is extremely important. The last time we did something like this at the Tauranga Home Show, one of the head chefs that participated was so impressed that he told me to send in my CV. I did and went for the interview - I got the job! So it just shows.”
Make sure you catch up with Peter and our talented culinary arts students at the Food For Thought festival at Our Place Tauranga on Saturday, 23 March.