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Dylan Percival

Cookery Learner

Dylan Percival Cookery learner

After almost two decades in the painting business, Dylan Percival realised it was time to set aside the brushes and pursue his lifelong passion for cooking.

“I moved to Wellington as a teenager and got into painting. My uncle owned a painting business, so I stepped into that and did it for 17 years.”

“I was originally looking for a house in Wellington, but I have family in Masterton and know a couple of people who commute. The house was also about half the price so it just made sense. I bought my first house in Masterton and started commuting to Wellington to keep painting. 

When COVID-19 hit, everything changed, says Dylan. 

“I had time off during the first lockdown and it gave me some time to think about what I really wanted to do with my life. By this point, I’d been tired of painting for quite a while, so I decided it was finally time to try something new. 

“I’d been interested in cooking since I was a kid. It’s always been something I’d enjoyed, so when I found out that UCOL had a cookery degree right here in Wairarapa I decided to sign up!”

“The commute is definitely a lot easier! It’s just a seven-minute walk from my house, which is awesome. Just up the road!"

When he started, Dylan says everything fell right into place.

“The first cooking job I got was at Ten O'Clock Cookie. It must be the busiest cafe in Masterton. It was a good starting point for me, it was so busy and I just landed on my feet. 

“I was working there for six months, but recently left to start a new position. I’ve just started at Nara on the Square in Martinborough where I work from breakfast through to dinner.”

In terms of his learning at UCOL, Dylan says he’s thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“It’s a really good class, everyone is focused. Our lecturer is really inspirational. He branches out quite a lot and always puts a fresh spin on the content we learn.

“He actually helped me get my new job too. He’s been talking to restaurants around the Wairarapa and told me they were looking. I started last week and am really excited to see where it takes me.”

Dylan says when he finishes his degree he’s keen to stay put in Masterton.

“I’d love to continue doing fine dining chef work here. I really love how the restaurants here work with good food - it’s all fresh and locally sourced, made in Masterton. I want to be a part of that.”

For people considering studying cookery, Dylan encourages them to find some part-time work to complement their studies. 

“You learn all the fundamentals of cooking at UCOL, but it can be different when you get into work, so it’s important that you put what you learn into action. It will help you to prepare for chef life, especially learning how to cope during busy rush hours!”

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