Cooking up a new role

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Moving back home to Hāwera Jan Nicholas (Ngā Ruahinerangi, Ngāti Ruanui, Taranaki Iwi, Ngāti toa Rangatira, Ngāi Tahu) thought she was saying goodbye to her career as a chef only to be lured back to a marae-based cooking teaching role at her local Taiporohenui Marae.

She says it was a role she couldn’t turn down. “I am passionate about marae-based learning and showing our whānau the skills you learn at the marae can be transferred to the workplace,” says Jan.

Jan’s 25-year career as a chef has seen her work in cafes restaurants and hotels predominantly in Wellington. On her exit from capital city life she was part of the catering team for Park Road Post Production. A film industry hub for up to 500 staff and many international film projects.

“We are fortunate to have someone with Jan’s experience and local connections join the team,” says WITT Te Pūkenga Hospitality Lead Angela Ferguson.

Jan says she learnt to cook on the marae before moving into work-based learning and says the marae makes a great learning environment.

“It’s a familiar, whānau centric space and is less daunting than a traditional classroom - for some it is an excellent introduction to tertiary education.”

She hopes that learning on the marae will bridge the pathway to further learning off the marae for rangatahi and their whānau.

An advocate of hospitality training, Jan says it is a versatile career whether you pathway into further training or a job in the industry or use your skills part-time as you study or travel.

“Hospitality jobs have got my own children through their studies and always kept me in rewarding work.”

Jan is also interested in linking in with community gardens to use local produce and giving a twist to traditional food – pork and pūhā spring rolls anyone?

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