Kiwi chefs, Spanish flair
A South Auckland cookery school is taking a global approach, with pathways to Michelin-star restaurants in Spain part of its innovative offerings.
Ignite Colleges cookery student Angela Scrivener has just returned from a 12-week stint in the kitchens of internationally acclaimed Trigo Restaurante, a Michelin-star restaurant located in Valladolid, the tapas capital of the world. Here she immersed herself in Spain’s regional cuisines and learnt culinary techniques from the best in the business.
“Prior to this I’d never been out of New Zealand. It was so exciting to experience a new culture and learn new ways of cooking,” she said.
Angela is the first ever Ignite Colleges student to take up a Spanish internship scholarship, offered by the provider as a gateway to gaining international work experience. The only cookery school in New Zealand with this optional add-on, budding chefs view it as the opportunity of a lifetime.
“Spain is such an incredible country with such a diverse array of cuisines. As part of my internship programme they took me to lots of different regions to experience different cooking styles and learn about local flavours. It was such a fantastic way to build my skills and knowledge and gain international exposure.”
Described as a Spanish gastronomic adventure, Angela’s time out of the kitchen included a visit to Luis San Jose, an asparagus grower in Tudela de Duero whose fine produce graces the tables of Europe’s most exclusive restaurants.
“We got to experience every step of the asparagus process, from harvesting in the fields right through to the final packaging.”
Segovia was another highlight, providing an insight into the history of Spain and the Reconquista during medieval times.
“We toured the medieval Castillo de Coca and the Alcazar, and met with the owners of Mesón de Cándido, Chef Candido and his father Alberto. We even got taught how they roast their highly acclaimed suckling pig!
“Spain is so different from New Zealand – the culture, the architecture, the cuisine. This incredible experience has really broadened my horizons.”
Now back in New Zealand, Angela is looking forward to sharing her newfound knowledge and expertise with Kiwi diners, as she forges her career as a chef Down Under. Meanwhile Ignite Colleges Level 4 student Bettina Adriano is now following in her footsteps, having headed to Spain earlier this month to take up a three-month internship at Michelin-star restaurant La Botica.
“I am so grateful and excited to have my internship in Spain,” says Bettina.“This trip will give me an opportunity to learn more, to become more knowledgeable and expand my skills. It is a pathway for me to reach my future career goals in this industry.”
For Ignite Colleges General Manager Jasbir Kaur, it is innovative programmes such as these that will give aspiring chefs a leading edge in today’s busy and competitive commercial kitchens.
“Ignite is raising the bar in cookery training in New Zealand,” she says. “Our Level 4 course gets students work ready, so they can transition seamlessly into Level 5 studies, and go on to become future head chefs or restaurant managers.
“Furthermore, our unique Spanish internships set our cookery students up not just for career success in New Zealand, but on the global stage. The contacts they make, the knowledge they gain, and the skills they learn will pave the way for opportunities that many chefs only ever dream about.”