From small beginnings, the Chef lecturer who may-well become known as Annabelle White’s ‘Man of the Manawatu’ has proven he has what it takes to train future Chefs in the busy hospitality industry.
Hailing from the small town of Marton, New Zealand (NZ), Hayden Robinson had no idea that taking on work experience with a couple of Chefs he knew in Whanganui in the early 90’s would lead him to travelling the world, opening award winning restaurants and taking on a guest appearance on RadioLive with well-known TV and radio cooking personality, Annabelle White.
“I trained at Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic (now UCOL Whanganui
) and after graduating worked my way through the kitchen ranks at a variety of restaurants around NZ, London, France and Australia,” say’s Hayden.
The life of a Chef is not all about cooking. One of his career highlights was working two 6 month stints in Montgenevre, a ski resort in the French Alps “I was snowboarding during the day and cooking at night, it was great! I’ve also worked as a cellar hand/assistant wine maker for a vintage at the Belvedere Winery in South Australia.”
Hayden’s career accolades as a head Chef consist of reviews in well regarded magazines such as Cuisine, NZ Café and the NZ Eating Out Guide. He has been responsible for many establishments obtaining regional as well as other numerous national awards.
With over 18 years’ industry experience it was only by chance Hayden applied for a lecturing job at UCOL’s training restaurant, Ambitions
. Eight years on, Hayden has combined the things he is passionate about – cuisine, entertaining and guiding others.
“The best thing about being a Lecturer is interacting with students and seeing their development as they progress through the course… another positive is knowing that most of them will get jobs, which is often before they finish their training.”
Hayden’s dedication has meant he is always learning, last November he passed the esteemed City & Guilds International Advanced Diploma in Food Preparation and Cookery Supervision exam, with distinction. Combining his own personal training, in-depth industry knowledge and experience are just a part of what he brings to the classroom, his innovative approach to his students’ success has him using PlayStation as a tool in the classroom.
“The students get competitive and always respond positively, I find it creates a fun way to revise and recap on theory content.”
It was this same fun loving personality that had Hayden judging pumpkin pies and doing a cooking demonstration with Annabelle White at the Marton Harvest Festival in March 2017.
“Annabelle asked if I was interested in being on her show to talk about the restaurant scene in the Manawatu, cooking tips and recipes,” he says. While being a radio celebrity is not part of his long-term goal, Hayden is much keener on developing UCOL’s NZ Diploma in Cookery (Advanced) Level 5 programme
and creating more experiences and exposure to the industry for his students.