New cookery project promotes life skills in local youths



3 September 2009


Twelve Queenstown youths have been chosen to take part in a cookery project that will introduce them to the hospitality industry with a view to building a career in hospitality.

‘Beyond the Basics – in the Kitchen’ is a six week project initiated by community youth worker Bella Higgins from Summit Youth Workers. The project is designed to help youth integrate with the community and to offer them a career pathway into the hospitality industry. Bella, with the support of Crowne Plaza and threesixty chef Phil Ryan, has attracted some of Queenstown’s finest chefs from 5 Queenstown restaurants to donate time to teach the participants.

The project will run every Tuesday starting on August 18, with a different dish produced each week under the watchful eye of a different chef. In week six, the participants will take part in the Final Challenge to produce the recipes learned. The recipes will be created and taught over the programme by Executive Chefs from Gibbston Valley Winery, Wine House Kitchen, Pier 19 and threesixty restaurant.

Aside from the valuable exposure these young people will receive into working in a real kitchen environment, the participants will have the opportunity to be rewarded for their efforts. The major award is a professional cookery course from Otago Polytechnic and other support has been provided for the program from a long list of local business including Southern Hospitality, Fresh Connection and Terrace Distributors.

The youth taking part have been selected from 35 applications through a process that involved Bella, and Wakatipu High School Principal Linda Cooper and her faculty.

“We were delighted with the response from interested youth and are very excited about getting the project underway,” says Bella. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the willingness of the chefs and restaurants to support the project, as well as many other local businesses, and extremely grateful for the generous donation of the major prize from Otago Polytech.”

threesixty head chef Phil Ryan will oversee the project which will run from the kitchen at Crowne Plaza Queenstown, and his restaurant will host the final challenge.

“We are thrilled to be able to particulate in this program and feel very strongly that these young people will come away with some excellent life skills, exposure to the hospitality industry and of course the chance to win some prizes and recognition.”

Chefs from threesixty, Pier 19, Gibbston Valley restaurant, Winehouse Kitchen restaurant and Hattaway consultancy will work with the participants. The final challenge will be judged according to categories including General Kitchen Skills, Presentation and Taste.


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