Show Me Some Stars
Trevor Salang first learnt to cook on Borneo Island in Malaysia, with only a machete as a cooking implement. He is now a UCOL graduate, with a Certificate in Professional Cookery Level 4, and a position as Head Chef at The Gallery restaurant in Palmerston North.
His earliest lesson came from his father and his grandparents who still use traditional tribal methods, with a wood fire and two metal bars to stop the pot from dropping into the fire. “From my father I learnt how to kill chickens, wild boar, catch fresh fish and gather vegetables from the forest, and cook them with nothing but a machete.”
Trevor came to New Zealand when he was 16 and attended Wairarapa College in Masterton. He heard about the Catering programmes at UCOL while he was still at college and decided on a career as a chef. Apart from acquiring cooking skills, he liked the idea that he could also develop his artistic bent through food presentation.
Trevor completed Food and Beverage and Professional Cookery certificates at UCOL then he did six months of industry work as a requirement for the Level Four qualification. “I loved every day of it,” he says.
“After being out in the industry, I understood what the lecturers were trying to pass on. So I absorbed everything they said and did. They had patience and had their preparation all planned out carefully. If something was wrong they’d quickly fix it. The end product was always superior – and they were still able to keep their chef whites sparkling!
“That is what I want to do, to have patience and make my final product superior, creating art through food.” Trevor also gained some insights from his favourite sport of kick-boxing, travelling to Thailand last year to represent his Palmerston North club and winning his fight. “My mentor chef at UCOL said to me: “As you fight your way up, it will get harder and harder…and it’s the same with cooking. It will also get harder and harder with more responsibility, so you have to continue to raise your standards.”
Trevor would like to try his hand working overseas in a few years time. “One day I would like to have my own restaurant – always serving a superior product.”
"Getting qualified has given me more confidence. The level four course extended my range of practical skills as well as providing me with a lot of background knowledge."
Anna Hooper had been working as a junior Commis Chef at Rydges for six months, when she decided to fast track her career by completing professional cookery qualifications at UCOL. Now working as a Demi Chef at Rydges, Anna says UCOL provided her with some great experiences. "I really loved taking part in competitions. During my time at UCOL I competed in the Wellington Culinary Fare, the national Toque d'or Competition, and a UCOL Intercampus Competition. Toque d'or was a real eye opener for me, with top chefs from all over New Zealand competing and displaying their work, it was very inspiring." Anna enjoyed her fair share of success at the competitions with a gold and a bronze medal from Wellington, a silver medal from Toque d'or, and to top it all off she was the winner of the Intercampus Competition.
In her current role Anna is primarily responsible for preparing desserts and other sweet foods. "Desserts are a lot of fun because you get to do the whole thing yourself, from preparing and baking, through to coming up with artistic designs for presenting them." Anna is also responsible for preparing sweet finger foods, including muffins and brownies, for the many functions Rydges hosts. "I work with a great team of people at Rydges and we have a lot of fun getting our jobs done."