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Cooking up tasty dishes and a reputation for Whanganui business

By UCOL on Monday, 19 June 2017

Neville Gorrie and UCOL graduate Taran Sidhu in the kitchen of The Grand Hotel in Whanganui

Neville Gorrie, owner of The Grand Hotel is a long-time supporter of UCOL, employing graduates and giving them the opportunity to expand their skills in the kitchen. We took a look inside the Grand Hotel.

At the intersection of two busy streets in central Whanganui, a historic giant stands proud. Clocking up 90 years of history with 55 guest rooms, a bar, family restaurant and function room, The Grand Hotel has earned its place in the local community.



The historic hotel owner, Neville Gorrie, is sometimes hard to find. On a busy day he can be found serving customers front of house, moving furniture for a function or getting his suds on in the kitchen washing dishes. Peering through the windows walking past, you might not think The Grand Hotel is busy, but looks can be deceiving. A busy day can see up to 75 people in for breakfast and a couple of hundred more enjoying a relaxing drink or evening meal.

Whilst people are eating, drinking and socialising, the kitchen team need to be fully focused cooking up tasty dishes and maintaining the The Grand Hotel's reputation for quality. It's no mistake that two of Neville's chefs are UCOL graduates, Taran Sidhu and Alex Heng. 

"Taran is my most recent hire. He's had good training," says Neville. 

Taran Sidhu, who comes from India, completed the International Diploma in Cookery at UCOL's Whanganui campus. It's – an intensive 18-month cookery programme for international students, teaching them how to produce advanced dishes in a commercial kitchen.

As part of his studies, Taran was required to undertake 105 hours of work placement for which he approached Neville. Neville says his first impressions of Taran have remained true. "He always looks sharp. Taran's got a good work ethic. He's respectful to the business and myself. He's coming along well."

Also forming a strong part of the kitchen team is Alex Heng of Cambodia. Armed with UCOL's Certificate in Advanced Culinary Arts Level 4 and Short Course Certificate in Hospitality Operations, he's been creating dishes for guests of The Grand Hotel for eight years. "It's a good place to work," says Alex. "We cater for a lot of people. Sports people mostly, even politicians. We feed a lot of people in this town."

Alex Heng in the function room at The Grand Hotel.

This year Neville has formed an even closer relationship with UCOL, donating a $500 scholarship to hospitality students. He's looking to the future, which in some ways will be just like today, quietly busy. 

Lead picture above: Neville Gorrie and UCOL graduate Taran Sidhu in The Grand Hotel's kitchen.
Above: UCOL graduate Alex Heng in the function room at The Grand Hotel.