Kelsea Clapp’s love for cooking came from preparing Christmas feasts with her grandma while growing up. Now she’s working as a chef in one of New Zealand’s great tourism towns.
Kelsea’s cooking education began during her secondary school years. While at Makoura College, she completed UCOL’s
STAR Cookery and Barista courses in 2018, before moving onto the
U-Skills Academy Café Skills programme in 2019. STAR and U-Skills Academy programmes give secondary school students the chance to learn vocational skills at UCOL one day a week.
From there it was an easy decision for Kelsea to enrol in UCOL Wairarapa’s
NZ Certificate in Cookery and chase a career as a chef.
“The tutors are really nice and I always got along with the other students. It was a really helpful environment to learn in,” says Kelsea.
The most enjoyable moments for Kelsea were when she and her classmates got to cook for the public. The class catered a morning tea for the Department of Conservation and another for the Wairarapa campus to raise money for the Breast Cancer Foundation. The class also ran a restaurant night, where they cooked a three-course meal for family and friends.
“It was different to the morning teas because there was a menu and we were cooking to order. It was challenging but good fun. Once you get going in the kitchen you get an adrenaline rush.”
Kelsea also did work experience at Coco Dessert Bar in Masterton as part of her studies. She impressed the team, who offered her a casual job for the rest of the year.
At the end of the year Kelsea’s lecturer Eddie presented her with a job opportunity at the Hilton in Taupō. At first Kelsea was unsure about moving away from home, but with some encouragement from her parents she took the job.
Now working as a Commis Chef, Kelsea works alongside the Chef de Parties to cook the hotel’s breakfast buffet each day. After she’s done with the day’s buffet, she preps for the next morning and helps the lunch and dinner chefs get ready.
“It’s going really well. I love it. If I didn’t do my UCOL studies I wouldn’t be in this position I am in now.”
In the long term Kelsea wants to be a chef on cruise ships so she can travel while she works.