Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

TV cooking shows turn boys towards careers in kitchen

Sacred Heart College hospitality students perfecting their barista skills are (from left) Daniel Club, Josh Kelly and Taylor Bush, all aged 17. Photo / Richard Robinson
Sacred Heart College hospitality students perfecting their barista skills are (from left) Daniel Club, Josh Kelly and Taylor Bush, all aged 17. Photo / Richard Robinson

The popularity of hospitality classes in schools has surged thanks in part to high-rating television shows such as MasterChef.

It had been a struggle to fill classes at some all-boys schools, but now some are having to turn students away.

Educators say celebrity chefs such as New Zealander Josh Emett have become role models, and that the discipline and the ability to work under pressure needed in the kitchen appeal.

Helen Chadwick, head of hospitality at Sacred Heart College in East Auckland, said the increased demand reflected a wider shift in New Zealanders' attitudes to food and service.

People had become more knowledgeable and sophisticated, and that had resulted in better career options and increased respect for those in the industry.

"People like Jamie Oliver have made it a valid, cool thing to do. Boys particularly like the nature of competition," she said.

Among those using the school's new coffee machine yesterday was Year 13 student Josh Kelly.

The 17-year-old said he was seriously considering a career in hospitality. He had grown up around food as his mum was a keen cook, and he was a fan of TV cooking shows.

"There are consistently new food shows coming out, even a whole food channel now. So yeah, I think that's definitely had an influence with how people look at hospitality."

Mrs Chadwick regularly upskills by attending courses, including a "Masterclass" programme at the Manukau Institute of Technology.

The Hospitality Training Trust has provided funding for MIT to put on classes for hospitality and food technology teachers in East Auckland and Counties Manukau.

Cherie Freeman, dean of culinary arts at MIT, said initial training for many teachers was more to do with home economics. "We're just filling the gap on how to best prepare their students for the industry."

Demand for MIT's own student programmes was growing, and the gender mix had changed.

The proportion of males entering the Certificate in Cookery programme increased from 40 per cent in 2008 to 60 per cent last year.

Chefs were on Immigration NZ's long-term skills shortage list, Ms Freeman said, and there was also great demand overseas.

Sharon Mitford-Burgess, head of hospitality at South Auckland's James Cook High School, said the decile 1 school used vocational pathways to show students how their study could lead to a job.

"The lightbulb seems to go on, and for them it's all suddenly relevant."

Mrs Mitford-Burgess said food television shows played a big part, especially those that showed ordinary people cooking and competing together. "There's a lot of identification with that."

Boys step up
*Numbers studying hospitality in school and tertiary institutions on the rise.
*More teenage boys are keen on the subject - and educators say cooking shows and celebrity chefs are a big influence.
*The proportion of males entering Manukau Institute of Technology's Certificate in Cookery programme increased from 40 per cent in 2008 to 60 per cent last year.

For more MasterChef stories, go here.

- NZ Herald

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