I couldn’t just drop life to study – and thanks to Otago Polytechnic, I didn’t have to.
Bachelor of Culinary Arts
Alastair Bolland was pretty excited when he discovered that Otago Polytechnic’s Recognition for Prior Learning meant he could gain academic credit for his years of work experience. It also meant he could complete a qualification, without leaving his job. “I could get a degree without having to put my life on hold for three years,” he says.
He found working towards his Bachelor of Culinary Arts really enjoyable. “The lecturers were fantastic – really interested in you as a person – and this made you really want to get into it,” Al says.
During the course, he even started to re-evaluate his work and life. “My degree made me think. My job had become routine, and my studies made me step back and see things differently.”
Al was amazed that just by putting aside a bit of time each week, he could graduate with a Bachelor of Culinary Arts. He’s convinced there is a degree in everyone – it’s just a matter of bringing it all together. “You can slot this process into almost any work system,” he explains. “This upskills the country – it gives people the chance to get recognised for all their years’ experience, and opens new doors for them.”
His own change in outlook has led to a fresh start. “It made me realise that I could be out in the world doing something a bit more ‘meaningful to me’, he says. “It gave me the impetus to start my own eatery, The Running Duck.”
The Running Duck opened in January 2016, in Geraldine. A food establishment with a kiwi bach vibe, the focus is on selling coffees, cakes and hamburgers. “Our main ingredient is nostalgia – old New Zealand,” Al says. “Good food is important, but if you can trigger a memory, 90% of the work is done.”
It’s great that I can combine all my qualifications in a useful way
Coral Seath - Ngāti Raukawa
New Zealand Certificate in Food and Beverage Service (Level 4) (Restaurant Services)
Coral Seath originally studied a Bachelor of Design (Interiors)*. Throughout her degree she worked in hospitality, and she loved it so much, she decided to study that as well! So, after graduation, Coral signed up for the New Zealand Certificate in Food and Beverage Service (Level 3) (Café Services) (Bar Services). She stayed another six months to complete the New Zealand Certificate in Food and Beverage Service (Level 4) (Restaurant Services).
“I loved that we studied what we were really interested in. This programme meant we could try new things and really experiment with different aspects of hospitality.”
As soon as Coral finished her qualifications, the job offers started rolling in.
“Since I’ve finished my studies, I’ve had several full-time jobs in the industry. It’s great to take up each opportunity as it arises” she says. “I’m currently a barista/bartender at Nova in the Octagon, and I’m really enjoying it.”
Coral’s found that her studies were very relevant. “Everything I learnt I’ve applied without fail. I’ve only been in the job a month, and already people are asking me how to do things, like make certain cocktails.”
Coral has found that her Design degree has helped in the industry too.
“I’ve created new menu designs. It’s great that I can combine all my qualifications in a useful way.”
Coral’s future plans include travelling the world, working in hospitality and learning more about the job she loves.
* Bachelor of Design (Interiors) has now been replaced by Bachelor of Architectural Studies (Interior Architecture)
The Food Design Institute has brought out a passion in me, and given me the strength and focus to start this company. It’s given me a new shot at life.
Bachelor of Culinary Arts
Victoria Madison’s mantra is “Great Taste, No Waste”. While studying the Bachelor of Culinary Arts at Otago Polytechnic, she became fascinated with how much waste we produce in our culinary wanderings.
She started with ‘Compost Cookies’ - using discarded by-products, like vegetable peels and fruit-juice pulp; she makes ricotta from the whey produced at the Evansdale Cheese Factory; flour from spent grains at Emerson’s Brewery; and sausage rolls from seconds spears at Palmerston Asparagus.
“Why pay top dollar when you’re just going to put it through a mincer or a pulper?” she says.
Victoria’s next step is a line of liqueurs using windfall fruit from Central Otago, seconds berries and foraged botanicals. “I filter spring water through sapwood offcuts – so the flavour’s infused into the water”. ‘Branch Water Liqueurs’ will be launched early 2017.
Victoria is passionate about her business. “I couldn’t have done it without Otago Polytechnic. My study there was life changing.”
Victoria says other Otago Polytechnic students are also keen to see her succeed. “All my beautiful new branding is created by third year Design student, Rachael Kelso”.
“My studies at the Otago Polytechnic The Food Design Institute has brought out a passion in me, and given me the strength and focus to start this company. It’s given me a new shot at life.”
We’re so lucky in New Zealand to have access to plants that can make us healthy, but most of us don’t know how to use them.
Bachelor of Culinary Arts
Penelope is a trained naturopath, medical herbalist and holistic nutritionist and is also the founder and creator of Botanical Kitchen, a company that combines herbs and traditional medicine with food.
She’d always wanted to make a career out of working with food but didn’t want to cook for a living.
“When I saw the ad for Otago Polytechnic’s Bachelor of Culinary Arts something clicked. I knew it wasn’t just about learning how to be a chef, it was business design with food as the medium and that really appealed to me.”
It was a project in the second year of Penelope’s Bachelor of Culinary Arts programme that left a bitter taste in her mouth but led to the sweet smell of success.
“I was driving around and noticed hawthorn berries growing at the side of the road and started wondering if I could use them, as not only are they medicinal but they’re free. The berries were extremely bitter and I was nearly going to throw them out but instead they now form the basis of a line of drinks I’ve developed, similar to Angostura or Swedish bitters.”
Penelope wants to bring back bitterness as a flavour of choice.
“The western world has lost its taste for bitter foods and it’s been replaced by sugar. The Chinese include bitter food as part of every meal, bitter foods have health benefits and it’s my mission to get that balance right.”
This year Penelope is doing an honours year in Postgraduate Design and intends to continue studying at Otago Polytechnic for a Masters degree.
“There’s a huge amount happening here, it’s very exciting place to be.”
Training in the on-campus restaurant and café at was a real highlight – putting aside the textbooks and gaining invaluable practical knowledge.
Amanda completed her Diploma in Hospitality Management at Otago Polytechnic in 2010 – and then moved straight into a role as a Graduate Management Trainee (GMT) with the Accor Hotel Group.
As a trainee, she experienced all areas of hotel service, including Housekeeping, Front Office, Restaurant and Bar, and Sales and Conferencing; while working in a variety of top New Zealand hotels.
Amanda grew up in ‘the hospitality lifestyle’ due to her mother’s role as a chef. She’s always loved the industry’s fast pace and “everyday variety”. Despite her enthusiasm, there were those who didn’t see hospitality as a wise career choice. “At school, some teachers advised me that hospitality isn’t ‘a real job’, but I was determined to prove them wrong – and I certainly have!”
She loved her time at Otago Polytechnic, especially the ‘hands-on’ aspect of learning. The quality of teaching also impressed her. “The lecturers really knew their stuff,” Amanda explains. “They taught by personal experience, and their passion only served to drive the students even more.” A highpoint during her study was entering the Restaurant Association of NZ Culinary Fare competition, which she recommends to anyone completing a hospitality course at Otago Polytechnic.
Amanda is currently the Housekeeping Manager at Hotel St Moritz – a boutique hotel located in Queenstown. Travellers make up much of the workforce, and part of Amanda’s role is to welcome them and ‘show them the ropes’. “It’s such a pleasure to introduce new employees to the team,” she says. “Many arrive with limited English and are miles away from home – I love watching them learn and grow.”
The support of my lecturers made my studies so inspiring and enjoyable.
Bachelor of Culinary Arts
Emma Yang feels truly ‘at home’ in Dunedin. Since graduating with a Bachelor of Culinary Arts from Otago Polytechnic, she has seamlessly made the transition to work in the city. She is now working full-time as a chef at Esplanade, the Italian restaurant in St. Clair.
“I initially undertook work experience at Esplanade, during the final year of my degree,” Emma says, “which then progressed to a part-time position. After I graduated, they offered me a full-time job. It’s a great place to work – both for the environment and co-workers.”
Originally from China, Emma first gained her National Certificate in Hospitality (Basic Cookery) (Level 3) at Otago Polytechnic in 2011, before studying for a Bachelor of Culinary Arts.
Emma thoroughly enjoyed her time at Otago Polytechnic. She particularly loved the creative aspect of her course, and the flexible nature of the programme. “It’s actually a design degree,” she explains. “Our lecturers encouraged us to be creative with food and gave us their full support on the projects we chose."
Emma was an International student, and is full of praise for the International staff. “Otago Polytechnic deserves its great reputation in teaching and learning, and its international programmes are excellent in my view. All the International staff are really lovely and they have really helped me a lot.”
Emma’s life in New Zealand has allowed her the opportunity to be independent and creative – and has widened her options considerably. “New Zealand has given me the freedom of choice,” she says, “and Otago Polytechnic helped me achieve my goals.”
Studying at Central has opened so many doors for me and has given me the most amazing experiences.
Taking the local road
Kayla Green has created a career pathway that has been surprising even to herself!
Kayla was a student at Cromwell College, and her interest in Home Economics and desserts led her to take up the opportunity to join the Otago Central Tertiary College for her last two years of school. During this time she not only completed years 12 and 13 she also successfully completed the National Certificate in Cookery, Level 2 and 3.
After finishing year 13 Kayla enrolled for the New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (L4) and is thoroughly enjoying her full time study experience, “The classes are small enough that you get to know the other students well, and you get lots of hands on experience and one on one time with the lecturers.”
Kayla has not only achieved more than many in the last few years, but she also won Silver at the national Toque D’or competition for her restaurant service. “Studying at Central has opened so many doors for me and has given me the most amazing experiences. I am also lucky that I can still live at home and stay in this amazing region. I’m definitely going to stay on and do the Level 5 Diploma in cookery next year, who knows where it will take me.”