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Teaching Triumph for Bachelor of Culinary Arts Team

Reaping accolades in the fiercely competitive culinary word is becoming a regular occurrence at Otago Polytechnic’s Food Design Institute.

Most recently, the well-established Bachelor of Culinary Arts (BCA) team have become recipients of the prestigious Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award; the first from Otago Polytechnic, to win an award as a team.

Established in 2001, the Awards recognise some of the nation’s most outstanding teachers, with a key focus on rewarding teaching practices that are student-focused and committed to promoting effective learning.

The Bachelor of Culinary Arts team from left: Tony Heptinstall, Daniel Pfyl, Stephen Ellwood, Adrian Woodhouse, David Gillespie (photo credits: Hayden Parsons)

The Bachelor of Culinary Arts team from left: Tony Heptinstall, Daniel Pfyl, Stephen Ellwood, Adrian Woodhouse, David Gillespie (photo credits: Hayden Parsons)

Bachelor of Culinary Arts Team – Food Design Institute

Adrian Woodhouse – Senior Lecturer
Daniel Pfyl – Senior Lecturer
Tony Heptinstall – Senior Lecturer

David Gillespie – Lecturer
Stephen Ellwood – Lecturer

Led by the BCA team, the Bachelor of Culinary Arts programme is one of the only design-led culinary arts degrees in the world, fuelled by innovation and adventure in cooking. “The course doesn’t have a cookie-cutter approach to how we teach,” says BCA Senior Lecturer, Tony Heptinstall. “The students produce individualised projects, gain individualised learning and chose their own destination through our programme.”

The BCA team’s appetite for sharing culinary innovation has led to the abandonment of the master-apprentice model of education; replacing it with a customised programme in which teachers and students co-create the knowledge and learning.

“It’s not only the teacher delivering the programme to the student; it’s the student feeding us knowledge back, and that expands the programme,” says BCA Lecturer, Stephen Ellwood. “With the student being engaged, they ask more questions and they have more ideas.”

Mr Heptinstall says they encourage their students to question everything. “One of our major mottos is not ‘Yes, chef’, it’s ‘Why, chef?’

BCA Senior Lecturer Daniel Pfyl says their team works so well together because “we are open to all ideas, have robust discussions and always keep the students at the forefront of our teaching and learning”.

Since 2001, more than 130 teachers have been celebrated through the Awards, which are formally presented at a function at Parliament and often hosted by the Prime Minister or Minister for Tertiary Education. 


Bachelor of Culinary Arts Team Profiles

Adrian Woodhouse
Senior Lecturer: Food Design Institute

Bachelor of Culinary Arts (BCA) Senior Lecturer Adrian Woodhouse is one of Otago Polytechnic’s
most treasured and respected staff members.

Having worked in a number of nationally-recognised restaurants, as well as owning and operating his
own bakery business, Mr Woodhouse brings a wealth of experience to the Bachelor of Culinary Arts
programme. In 2008, he won his first AKO Teaching Award and has since given workshops and
keynotes, both nationally and internationally, on the subject of Excellence in Vocational Teaching.

Mr Woodhouse says this is the best part of his job is working with such a tightknit team and his
students, who bring so much passion to the classroom.


David Gillespie
Lecturer: Food Design Institute

As an apprentice chef in Dunedin twenty seven years ago, Bachelor of Culinary Arts Lecturer David
Gillespie was encouraged to travel overseas and get some cheffing experience. As a result, he
worked in some of London’s most prestigious restaurants, and stayed in Europe for over five years.

When an opportunity to join the team at Otago Polytechnic emerged, Mr Gillespie knew he was
embarking on an exciting adventure. Having worked for the Polytechnic for 20 years, he has become
a critical member of the well-established BCA team and relishes in his role as a mentor and teacher;
educating students to create, innovate and thrive in an ever-evolving industry.


Tony Heptinstall
Programme Manager: Food Design Institute

With 34 years’ experience as a chef and baker, Bachelor of Culinary Arts Programme Manager Tony
Heptinstall is not only a talented culinary veteran, he’s one of the original staff members that
introduced flexible delivery and innovation into the cooking programmes at Otago Polytechnic.

Hailing from United Kingdom, Tony moved to New Zealand in 1996 and started working for the
Polytechnic in 1997. He has since won an Excellence Award for Innovation in Teaching, and was part
of the development team that wrote the ground-breaking BCA programme.

Tony says the highlight of his job is seeing how a student’s life can change by studying the BCA.


Steve Ellwood
Catering Lecturer: Food Design Institute

Steve began working as a Lecturer at Otago Polytechnic in 2006. He has an extensive background in
hospitality spanning over twenty years, with a focus on the hotel market and management of
industrial kitchens. His role now involves lecturing on the Bachelor of Culinary Arts degree across
several papers, encouraging students to push their creative boundaries and share their food
experiences. Steve says the BCA team’s success comes down to their solid industry backgrounds, their
unwavering passion for food, and their commitment to giving students the best possible culinary


Daniel Pfyl
Senior Lecturer: Food Design Institute

Food Design Institute Senior Lecturer Daniel Pfyl began his chef’s apprenticeship in the Swiss Alps in
1975. Since then, he has had a colourful and adventurous career with various cheffing roles around
the world. Some highlights include working as the Executive Chef to His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei,
two years in India, and a few stints in Australia and Queenstown.
Mr Pfyl joined Otago Polytechnic in 1999, educating and teaching his skills to up and coming chefs. In
2011, he was the recipient of the staff award for Excellence in Teaching, and then again in 2012 with
the Bachelor of Culinary Arts Team award.
The highlight of his job is the working relationship he has with his students and watching them
transform into capable chefs that will go on to have success in the industry, anywhere in the world.

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