Restaurant Association of New Zealand

2008 Education Scholarship Winners Announced

Culinary passions encouraged to blossom... thanks to Restaurant Association scholarships

A barista who plans to popularise coffee and food matching, the daughter of one of New Zealands well known chefs, and a high school student chef with eyes on an international career, are among the countrys rising foodservice industry stars awarded Restaurant Association Education Trust scholarships this year.

Coming from broad backgrounds both in levels of experience and geographic locations the scholarship recipients have been carefully selected for their enthusiasm and commitment to the hospitality industry. Restaurant Association Education Trust chairman Tony Adcock said the standard of scholarship applications continues to remain at an extremely high standard and judges were encouraged to see a high number of potential grant candidates continuing to come from high schools and tertiary institutions.

Every year, another crop of exceptional young talent applies for these worthy scholarships, and every year the judges are amazed at the diversity of where and how the applicants intend utilising these grants, Mr Adcock said. At a time when unemployment in New Zealand is at an all time low, and many industries are struggling to recruit young talent, these scholarships send out an important message to the marketplace that the hospitality and foodservice industry is a vital sector of New Zealands economy and an attractive employment option with long-term career paths. The investment in New Zealands future workforce through these scholarships underpins the Restaurant Associations commitment to continually striving to grow the total professionalism of those within the foodservice and hospitality industries, Mr Adcock concluded.

Here are the eight 2008 Restaurant Association Education Trust scholarship recipients

Continuing Education Grant, $12,000

Mark Sycamore, Queenstown

Learning how to present cooking demonstrations for live audiences is the prime objective of Mark Sycamores study sabbatical. Chef Sycamore intends using his continuing education grant to attend the prestigious Culinary Institute of America which runs courses on demonstration cooking.

In conjunction with this curriculum, chef Sycamore also plans to take a course on food styling which covers the demands created by all forms of media presentations including prop selection, the use of colour, textures, and tools of the cheffing trade.

Chef Sycamore is passionate about developing a concept he calls the culinary roadshow workshop which takes live cooking demonstrations by qualified professional chefs out to the rural areas and tertiary institutions.

Last year chef Sycamore who works as a sous chef at Blanket Bay Luxury Lodge at Glenorchy just out of Queenstown and was 2006 New Zealand Chef of the Nation and lodge head chef Jason Dell took their roadshow to a series of workshops in the Otago region with more than 100 colleagues attending to pick up valuable tips and advice.

As a result, the Southern Lights Salon Culinaire boasted record entry numbers from young chefs enthused by what they saw created by Dell and Sycamore.

I feel that Im in a strong position to drive this concept as I have already actively competed in competitions. However, Im relatively young by industry standards and while I feel this is a positive as it helps me to relate well to our target audience, Im also aware that I need to develop my own skill and knowledge base to become a better presenter, said the 28-year-old.

The knowledge and experience gained from this trip will enable me to develop the culinary roadshow concept into something which the Otago region and in fact the foodservice industry as a whole can utilise to advance, promote and showcase our ever evolving industry, added chef Sycamore. This will ensure that in years to come we can continue to enhance the growing reputation New Zealand chefs are building on the world stage.

Tutor Work-Study Grant, $5000

Katherine Wong, Southern Cross Campus, Auckland

Maintaining links with ever-changing culinary trends by balancing educational commitments with on-the-job work experience is an important motivating factor for culinary teacher Katherine Wong.

As a tutor at Southern Cross Campus in South Auckland, Katherine Wong undertakes personal work experience during weekends and term breaks at operations such as McDonalds, Jet Park Hotel, Novotel and Hotel Ibis Ellerslie, Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre and the Kowloon Hotel in Hong Kong.

I see my role as developing the foodservice skills and knowledge of my pupils, and exposing them to the world outside of the school, said the 49-year-old teacher. In order to provide quality training to my students, Ive kept myself updated with industry knowledge and experience. I have taken the opportunity of continuing to keep updated in both kitchen and front of house.

Katherine Wong intends utilising her scholarship grant to assist with paying for a relief teacher at the campus while she upskills both in the local market and overseas.

The dedicated culinary tutor also actively encourages her students to participate in culinary competitions throughout New Zealand, as well as searching for outplacement work opportunities for pupils to complete during their holiday breaks.

My philosophy is that with updated knowledge and skills of my profession, my students can confidently develop their skills and knowledge to enter the industry and make an immediate start, or move into further education options with a clear pathway in mind, she said. These work experience opportunities have helped me develop relationships with people in the industry which has enabled me to put my students into the same kitchens I have been working in. My students are moving into the industry with hands-on training with confidence and competency.

Merit Scholarship for Secondary School Students, $3500

Josh Young, Christchurch

Creating gourmet hamburgers has launched the culinary career of Josh Young whose pattie-flipping skills have already shot him to TV stardom and seen him take out a national foodservice competition title.

Growing up in the hospitality industry with both of my parents owning a restaurant & catering company in Timaru is where the interest in cooking started for me, said the 18-year-old kitchen whizz who began his early career development in Blenheim.

In my sixth form year at Marlborough Boys College I entered the National Beef and Lamb Burger Competition and after making it to the national final, I took out the gold medal.

I then took up a role at Hotel dUrville as a junior chef. 2006 was the biggest year so far in my career. I first attended the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology Salon Culinaire and received a silver medal for the South Island Restaurant of the Year kitchen team and a silver medal for the overall title, smiled Josh proudly.

Competitions have been the biggest experience which have pushed my passion for food, and the decision to take up a career in the foodservice industry. I intend on continuing my competition work throughout my entire career.

The Restaurant Association scholarship will see Josh returning to Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology this time to undertake a level four professional cookery course.

Sarah Harrap, Auckland

A life in the kitchen was always on the cards for young Auckland chef Sarah Harrap after all, her father is former New Zealand Chefs Association president Martin Harrap.

The17-year-old admits her dad had a pretty big influence in enticing her into a career in the professional kitchen.

When I was about 14-years-old, dad gave me a metal Easter egg chocolate mould. Unfortunately my first attempt at chocolate making was unsuccessful, laughed the sweet-toothed chef. Undeterred I had another attempt with new moulds my mum bought and the seed was sown the dream to one day be a chocolatier.

Over the past four years Sarah Harrap has worked part time with her dad in several of his foodservice business activities. During weekends and school holidays Sarah worked at well known North Shore restaurant Murrays at the Bay, assisting in the pastry section. She also worked as a second chef when dad Martin cooked fine dining meals for private parties in the suburbs.

The Restaurant Association scholarship will be a stepping stone in meeting my ultimate dream of one day opening up a speciality store focusing on fine hand-made chocolates and pastries, said Sarah who is now studying for a diploma in patisserie at Auckland University of Technology.

I continue to create chocolates and pastries at home and like experimenting with various ingredients and the scholarship will help me further develop my skills in the patisserie discipline.

Merit Scholarship for Hospitality Students, $3500

Daniel Fleming, New Plymouth

New Zealands culinary industry has seen many trends over the past couple of decadesfood and wine matching, beer and food matching, even whiskey and food matching. Now young barista/waiter Daniel Fleming wants to introduce a new trendcoffee and food matching.

Daniel hopes that his studies for an international diploma in hotel management leading to a degree qualification - at the Pacific International Hotel Management School in New Plymouth will empower him with the skills required for a successful career in hospitality and enable him to follow through on his thoughts for a whole new style to food and beverage matching.

The 19-year-old first saw the opportunity of coffee and food while working for Starbucks part-time for two years. Starbucks brought out a banana frappuccino. With this beverage promotion there was also a food promotion to go with it the food for example was a banana and chocolate loaf, said Daniel. The loaf soon began to be sold on a regular basis and became a food trend so whenever people purchased the coffee it became almost expected that they would purchase a slice of loaf too.

Every couple of months the new promotional food and beverage match created a trend for customers to purchase, and buying the new food became the fashionable thing to do. Even customers who had standard drinks still tried the promotional food because of its uniqueness.

Its easy to see how different foods can have a large influence on a consumer trend. By creating promotional food items every few months, Starbucks created their own food trends within stores.

Daniel intends utilising his scholarship to help offset the fees and books required for his studies at the Pacific International Hotel Management School.

Vanessa Herbert, Lower Hutt

Ambitious hospitality management trainee Vanessa Herbert is already looking forward to the 2011 Rugby World Cup being held in New Zealand not because shes an avid All Blacks fan, but because she wants to be part of the action catering at some of the big games.

Ive always been very goal orientated I want to be the best, exclaimed the 19-year-old who is currently in her first year of a bachelor of hospitality management at the Wellington Institute of Technology (WELTEC).

The Rugby World Cup is going to be one of, if not the, biggest event to ever be held in New Zealand and I want to be part of it. I really enjoy event co-ordination and management because it brings together so many skills combining front and back of house.

This open ambition for success helps to explain Vanessa Herberts competitive motivation. In 2006 Vanessa as a trainee chef then represented Wanganuis Universal College of Learning (UCOL) in the Toque dOr event for polytechnics as part of the New Zealand Culinary Fare, where she picked up a silver medal.

In the same year while studying for a certificate in catering hospitality and advanced culinary arts, Vanessa was selected by UCOL to represent Wanganui in Switzerland as part of an international culinary student exchange programme.

Creating a solid grounding for all-round hospitality event management, Vanessa said that while she enjoyed cooking, she yearned for a stronger front of house function management career. Ive chosen hospitality functions as the direction I want to go in, rather than restaurant or caf work. I like the buzz of bringing an event together and seeing a whole lot of different parts make up one whole, she said.

Kurt Cranstoun, Hamilton

Few things have captured and retained Kurt Cranstouns attention like his love for working with food. Since the age of 12, this 18-year-old trainee chef has been planning his kitchen career starting with weekend and school holiday stints in the caf of a family friend.

Im not really sure where I got my love for food as Im the only real chef in the family but I just love cooking, and seeing how different flavours work together and learning about foods from around the world, said Kurt.

As a school student, Kurt took on a part-time kitchen hands role at Zigilinis Cafe in Hamilton, where his curiosity about food continued to grow. After continually requesting to be a bigger part of the kitchen team, Kurt was eventually trained to make paninis, salads and sandwiches.

During his sixth form year at high school, Kurt could no longer resist the call of the kitchen and he left to take up a full time role at Zigilinis, while also signing on for a certificate in professional cookery at the Waikato Institute of Technology (WINTEC).

Becoming ever more curious about preparing food, Kurt moved to Palate restaurant in Hamilton last year where he was given responsibility for preparing entre and dessert dishes.

Kurt was part of the WINTEC team which competed in the Waikato Culinary Fare where he and two colleagues jointly won a silver medal in the teams event preparing a three course meal showcasing tuna carpaccio, rabbit with mushrooms, and a mango and vanilla steamed sponge pudding.

With assistance from the Restaurant Association scholarship going toward tuition fees and books, Kurt now hopes to go one better competing at the New Zealand Culinary Fare in Auckland later this year either competing for WINTEC in the tertiary schools section, or going it alone in the junior section.

I like the whole essence of competing, creating a menu, practising, practising and practising, then putting it all together under pressure, he said.

Contact the Restaurant Association on 0800 737 827 for more information on the Restaurant Association Education Scholarship programme