Chef serves up his life story in a return to his old school

By Liz Wylie

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GUEST CHEF: Peter Gordon talks to students about his Whanganui beginnings and career path.
GUEST CHEF: Peter Gordon talks to students about his Whanganui beginnings and career path.

World renowned chef Peter Gordon visited his former high school to talk to hospitality students about his career yesterday.

Gordon told the students that he attended Whanganui High School during the late '70s and completed 7th form in 1980.

"I remember that the first thing I made in cooking class here was an open sandwich which I thought was fantastic and by the end of the year I was making soups and stews and all kinds of things," he said.

Gordon referred briefly to the kitchen accident that happened at his Castlecliff home when he was 7.

Being badly burned by hot fat left him scarred and a target for bullies, but it did not deter him from becoming a chef.

"I see children now who have suffered burns and I think 'that's really tough' but I know I got through it and I hope they will too."

After leaving school, Gordon moved to Melbourne where he completed his apprenticeship and was exposed to exotic ingredients from around the world.

Now living in London where he has his famous Sugar Club restaurant with branches in New Zealand, Australia and Istanbul, Gordon gets back to his home town as often as he can and has two nieces attending Whanganui High School.

Despite having achieved just 50 per cent when he sat School Certificate English back in the day, Gordon said he has written all his own best-selling cook books. "When my first book, The Sugar Club was proposed, the publisher suggested that someone could write it for me, but I wanted to write it myself.

"I didn't own a computer [not many people did back then] so I bought one and learned how to use it."

Students were told that life as a chef could be tough with long hours and diminished social life.

"If you are passionate enough, you will still find it is worth it," said Gordon.

He described the thrill of cooking in his London restaurant for famous diners such as Elton John and Madonna.

"I would say to myself 'I'm from Whanganui and these famous people are eating my food'," he added.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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