Sous chefs at The Blind Finch Hamburgeria & Bakehouse in Ohakune have jumped at the opportunity to earn a UCOL cookery qualification while on the job.
In October, UCOL launched the New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4) (In-work), which combines on-the-job training with in-class and online learning. The programme is designed for people working as a cook or chef at least 20 hours a week, and do not have a formal cookery qualification.
Derek Allomes, Owner and Head Chef of The Blind Finch, thought the programme would be a great opportunity for his two chefs who didn’t have qualifications. After he told them about it, they were excited to take on the challenge.
“They are embracing that transition to learning, and the fundamental knowledge and confidence they have gained really shows in their work,” says Allomes.
“As the course progresses I think we’ll see even more confidence from them. They were a bit nervous about doing formal learning, but they’re coming back from classes having done things that we don’t get to do in our kitchen often.”
One of the staff members, Diana Csore, says she enrolled in the programme as it was a great opportunity for upskilling. She has been working at The Blind Finch for five years, starting off in the front of house before moving into the hamburgeria kitchen as a sous chef. Csore is now working in the business’ popular bakehouse.
“I thought the programme would be good for me because I could learn new things. Derek has taught me many, many things, but I want to learn even more.”
Diana Csore in the kitchen at The Blind Finch
Csore’s studies started with a six-day block course at UCOL Whanganui. Since then, she travels to UCOL once a fortnight for a day of classes. The rest of her learning is done online and at work, where she is visited by a UCOL lecturer.
Csore says she has enjoyed learning new techniques and recipes. A highlight for her was when she learned to make scones from scratch.
Csore had some nerves heading into the programme, but she has had great support and everything is working out well.
“I thought I might be too old to study, but my husband told me that it’s never too late to learn. I’m from Indonesia and was worried about my English, but I was told it wouldn’t be a problem. Our lecturer, Jan, is very good and patient. The paperwork can be hard, but little by little I’m learning.”
Csore says she would recommend the programme to anyone working in a kitchen who wants to earn a qualification and progress.
“I have already recommended it to my friends. I tell them ‘Look at me. I can do it, so you can too.’ I’m looking forward to getting my certificate.”