WITT supports the 2024 Taranaki Autumn 'Feastival'

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Amid steaming pans of ricotta gnocchi served with sizzled sage leaves and slithers of parmesan, followed by a scrumptious seasonal feijoa and ginger pudding, Angela Ferguson - dedicated foodie and head of WITT’s hospitality courses - is in her element.

Angela hosted a special cooking and wine pairing class at WITT attended by 20 people recently as part of the Taranaki Autumn ‘Feastival.’

Not only was it a chance to share her love of good kai and her supreme culinary knowledge and skills, but to “showcase WITT’s awesome facilities – state of the art kitchens and equipment, our Impressions restaurant and Garage café,” says Angela.

The aim of her class was to demonstrate recipes participants can replicate and adapt by adding their own additional flavours and ingredients of choice to. Dishes were paired with wines from Okurukuru Vineyard with the expertise of WITT food and beverage tutor Julie Hall and participants sat down to eat what they’d created at the end of the class.

Angela has loved cooking since she was a kid growing up in the Wairarapa. She recalls standing at her kitchen bench window pretending she had her own TV cooking show, inspired by local TV cooking celebrities of the era such as Dame Alison Holst, and Hudson and Halls duo (Peter Hudson and David Halls) as well as US chef Julia Childs.

A world of food

While at school Angela’s future became clearer once she swapped shorthand and typing classes for home economics in the fifth form (Year 11). She’d found her direction and calling. She left school to work as an apprentice in the kitchen of the Golden Shears Motor Inn in Masterton while studying block courses in hospitality at Wellington Polytechnic, qualifying as a chef four years later.

She spent the next four years at the New Zealand High Commission in Canberra, cooking and serving food to numerous VIPS. Then in Perth she catered on a paddle steamer on the Swan River for weddings and special events before going to Kalgoorlie – a gold mining town in Western Australia, where she worked at a hotel, catering for the multitude of hungry miners and tourists.

Back in New Zealand in 1998, Angela started her tertiary teaching at the Whanganui Polytech, then at UCOL in Palmerston North. She also launched her own Sage café in Feilding, which was named best café in 2008 in Manawatu and was named one of the top 400 eateries around the motu by Cuisine magazine in 2006.

“If someone told me when I was 17 that one day I’d own my own award-winning café I would not have believed it,” says Angela, who joined WITT in 2012 to teach and is now Deputy Director of Hospitality, Primary Industries, Creative Industries, Trades Academy, Secondary Tertiary Pathways, and Health and Beauty.

A former judge in the national cheese awards, Angela rates the Taranaki food and dining scene highly, describing it as “diverse and vibrant.”

“We have a bevy of choice with many ethnic eateries, from street food to casual, and top end dining. There are the amazing local distilleries and craft breweries as well as growers and farmers markets.”

Angela says students enrolled in WITT’s hospitality courses can aspire to an equally varied and stimulating career.

She wrote in an opinion piece on ‘hospitality as a career option’, published in 2021, “Hospitality is sometimes unfairly viewed as transitional, temporary work or a short-term job. In my view, choosing a career in hospitality opens the doors to a world of opportunity both locally and abroad. Hospitality is an industry where there’s limitless opportunity to build your future, continually develop, follow your passion, and navigate your own path. “

As WITT’s hospitality department prepares for trimester two intakes she is planning for the next cooking and beverage pairing class at WITT in spring.

Find out more about studying hospitality at WITT here.

Caption: Angela Ferguson, during the Cooking and Wine Pairing class at WITT for the Taranaki Autumn Feastival.

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