Thu 11 Jul 2019

Creativity brings sweet success

Ervil Somera is saying goodbye to the WITT kitchen and hello to a new position as Head Pastry Chef for a Christchurch-based gourmet dessert bar. 

Coming to WITT a year and a half ago as an international student from the Philippines, Ervil threw himself into the Diploma in Professional Cookery - a fast-tracked programme that delivers four semesters over 18 months. “While I learned to cook the basics in the Philippines, what I’ve learned here at WITT is at a more professional level,” he says.

Ervil’s skills extend beyond the kitchen. Not only is he passionate about food, he has a keen interest and great eye for food photography. Ervil created The Rustic Plate to publish his food photography, featuring many creations dreamed up and mastered in the WITT kitchens.

Ervil says it’s his food photography that generated interest from a potential employer earlier this year.  “I was contacted by a pastry chef and entrepreneur based in Christchurch, initially about some part time work. Over time, his business started to evolve. He’s done pop-ups in Dunedin, Christchurch and Invercargill, and after a couple of months of talking, I was offered the Head Pastry Chef position in his new dessert bar.”

“I love the art of making dessert. I love the challenge, because not all chefs have the patience and creativity to create exceptional desserts.”

Impressively, Ervil’s new employer flew from Christchurch to New Plymouth to attend one of Ervil’s degustation dinners – part of the assessment of his Cookery programme. “He was really happy with the food and particularly the petit fours,” says Ervil. The offer of Head Pastry Chef came shortly after.

“I was totally shocked. That was my first emotion. Here I am – a fresh graduate – and I am being offered a title like Head Chef. It was incredibly humbling.”

The dessert bar is set to open in September or October of this year. Ervil will farewell his adopted home, Taranaki, and relocate to Christchurch in a couple of weeks.  “It’s such an exciting move,” Ervil says.

Reflecting on his time at WITT, Ervil says his eyes were opened to a whole new world of food.

“From my first perceptions of culinary arts, I discovered another world – a world of food that is more creative.”

“The thing I enjoyed most at WITT was getting to study molecular gastronomy. Anyone can cook, but a real professional includes science in their cooking. I thought to myself, ‘this is what Michelin-starred chefs are doing’.”

“I loved learning about flavour combinations, colours, and textures, and learning to consider the available ingredients to present a plate that’s extraordinary.”

Ervil smiles when asked about the learning environment at WITT.  “One word comes to mind,” he says. “Professional.”

“There’s such a focus on presentation, quality control, and health and safety here. At WITT, we’re taught to be creative and knowledgeable about our craft, we’re taught to contribute to our community by supporting local growers and considering sustainability.”

“Our tutors have been so patient. We started our journey without much knowledge, but they’ve put in extra effort to make sure we succeed. The tutors push us to think outside the box, and I really think they deserve recognition for how they’ve motivated us all.”

Ervil doesn’t hesitate to encourage people thinking about a career in cookery to take the plunge.

 “There are so many fields within culinary arts and it’s something you can really enjoy doing. It’s flavourful and it’s colourful,” he says. “My love for desserts is something I discovered at WITT. My advice is to find what you love to do – and be good at it.”

“First is the heart, and then comes the art.”

WITT can help you discover what you’re passionate about. Take the first step and check out your options in hospitality.