New training initiative for high school students
Queenstown Resort College (QRC) is tapping into the profile and colourful personality of MasterChef New Zealand 2013 runner-up Jaimie Stodler to draw new recruits to the hospitality industry.
The successful Queenstown-founded hospitality management and adventure tourism school also has two Bay of Islands’ campuses – the recently launched QRC Culinary in Kerikeri and QRC Tai Tokerau College in Paihia.
Jaimie, who owns Cup and Cake in Queenstown, is legendary locally for her innovative flavours and immaculately-decorated, designer cupcakes and cakes. From early next year (2018) she’ll spend one week each month in Northland as a travelling chef, visiting high schools in the region recruiting students for QRC’s two Northland colleges.
QRC chief executive Charlie Phillips says the new initiative will open up opportunities for high school students to enter hospitality, tourism and cookery, and raise awareness about hospitality careers when they leave high school.
“Jaimie’s the perfect fit for the role. You’ve got to entertain young people,” says Charlie. “Jaimie’s television MasterChef profile, natural energy and drive to succeed will present industry careers in a fun and vibrant way.”
Jaimie and her Cup and Cake chef also flew to Sri Lanka earlier this year, as their prize for winning the national final of the Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge.
In Northland she will be do cooking or baking demonstrations in schools that have kitchen facilities, and explaining to students what a career in the industry entails.
“Many of these students would thrive in a kitchen environment, but they’re not aware of the opportunities that are available,” says Jaimie, who’s always exploring new ways to grow and expand in her career. “I really want to help people discover and experience a kitchen working life with positivity and enthusiasm.”
She won’t be painting the industry as a bed of roses though. “The bottom line is that you need to work hard to succeed. I’ll be talking about the practicality of learning how to do that to achieve an end result.”
For Jaimie it’s time to “give something back” to the culinary world and an industry that’s she passionate about. “I’ve always had a passion for food. I wanted to be more involved in the tactile side and learning about food,” she says.
A political science and economics graduate, Jaimie forged her kitchen career the hard way. “I’m all about helping people to take the easier road of professional schooling for a few years.”
Tourism is huge in Northland and both colleges are right on the doorstep of the beautiful Bay of Islands, says Charlie. “It’s about putting together good outcomes for local youth looking for an opportunity to break into hospitality.”