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Oi Yin Wong (Julia)

Diploma in Professional Cookery Level 5

Oi Yin Wong (Julia) | Success Story NZMA

I feel very fortunate to have studied at NZMA. The chef tutors are very keen to share their ideas and skills, and always encourage us to aim high and strive for excellence. Last year at the NZ Chefs National Salon I went on to win a bronze medal.

Diploma in Professional Cookery Level 5

Chef de Partie
Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel

Julia tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m from Hong Kong and have had a successful career in event management – however my main hobby has always been good, nutritionally-sound food.  I came to New Zealand back in 2014 to travel for three months and during that time I visited different cookery schools around the country.  I particularly liked NZMA because of its good study environment and excellent reputation as a Category 1 provider.
NZMA is providing the platform for me to learn the professional culinary skills I need to move my event planning career into the culinary world! The transition has been fun as both careers are about passion, being organised and working under pressure.

How are you enjoying your NZMA studies?
I feel very fortunate to have studied at NZMA.  The chef tutors are very keen to share their ideas and skills, and always encourage us to aim high and strive for excellence. Last year one of my tutors devoted his time to helping me prepare for the NZ Chefs National Salon and I went on to win a bronze medal in the Prawn Training Category which was a real thrill.
I’ve learnt so many valuable skills during my time at NZMA – in fact every day I have learnt something new! When you are in the kitchen you need to be professional, dress in a chef’s jacket, follow the food and safety principles, work smart, work fast and learn fast. You need to work well with your co-workers, communicate and cooperate.

What employment opportunities have you had?
Throughout my NZMA studies I’ve been fortunate to secure several relevant part-time roles, including positions in a French bakery, a Japanese restaurant, a fish and chip shop and a rest home.  The experience I gained from these roles helped me deepen my understanding of the food service industry, and prepared me well for stepping into full-time employment in a kitchen.

I’m now completing my 600 hour internship at the Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel in the heart of the Waikato. I’m a Chef de Partie in the cold larder and pastry section, which includes dessert menu planning, cold larder and dessert production for the a la carte menu, weddings, conferences, cocktail functions and other events.  I love it. It’s a small team and the staff and management are very supportive. I also get to practice all the recipes, skills and techniques that I learnt at NZMA.
During my interview the Head Chef was amazed by my portfolio, especially my pictures of ‘Dessert Abscission’, which was the practical assessment of the Level 5 Pastry Block. After seeing that, they offered me a job in charge of the cold larder and pastry section. Pastry is another domain entirely in culinary arts!
I finish my internship in August and plan to stay on at the hotel in a full-time role.  Passion is the key to being a chef, and I definitely have the passion. I will work hard and keep learning and moving forward. Within the next five years I expect to be a Head Chef!