(Yr 1 & Yr 2 )Waimea College
When Ben was in Year 12 at school, he decided to enrol in the Trades Academy Hospitality programme as a way to gain experience and skills in Front of House operations. During the programme he had the opportunity to also try out chefing in the commercial kitchen. It was during this time that he realised his real passion lay in the kitchen, preparing and cooking delicious food. In 2014 he enrolled for the second year of the Trades Hospitality programme, honing his cooking skills further and making plans for what his future career might look like. During this year he also completed a Gateway work placement programme, undertaking work experience at a local café.
Since that time, cooking has become Ben’s life and he is actively pursuing his dream to become a qualified chef. He is currently completing his Level 5 Diploma in Culinary Arts at NMIT and later this year will complete a Front of House certificate qualification, to give him all the skills he needs to succeed in the hospitality industry.
“It’s been an awesome experience here at NMIT. There are 12 of us in my current class and we all come from different parts of the world. It’s really opened my eyes - we all come together over our shared love of food. We learn about all types of cooking, as well as finding out about where our ingredients come from and food sustainability”.
One of the highlights for Ben is working in the Rata Room restaurant at NMIT two nights a week, as well as working at local café, River Kitchen. The skills and experience these work placements offer mean that Ben is ready to move out of training and take the next step into fulltime chefing.
Looking back at Trades Academy, Ben says that this experience gave him the confidence to go on into more advanced tertiary study and to follow the career path he is passionate about. “The tutors are great. They’re professional and always willing to pass on their knowledge to us. The facilities also make a huge difference. Here at NMIT we have a fully functioning commercial restaurant, so we get to practice what we learn in a real life environment. I also get experience supervising other junior trainee chefs.” Ben reckons that being open to change, willing to try new things and making the most of any opportunities is the key to success.
So what’s next for Ben? His long term goal is to have his own establishment. The experience he’s gained through Trades Academy and further tertiary training at NMIT has set him on his path of success in the hospitality sector. His advice to younger students is: “Put yourself out and go the extra mile. The minute you get comfortable is the minute you stop learning”.