Matthew Pereira credits his grandmother and his Portuguese heritage for his passion for cooking and future career aspirations.
The Tauranga Boys' College student said he hoped to be a chef in the New Zealand Army or open up a cafe, and was gaining valuable knowledge at school. He has fond memories of helping out his grandmother, Maria, from an early age in the kitchen preparing food.
"My grandmother comes from a rich Portuguese background and apparently, from her point of view, Portuguese women are pretty much the cooks, so she has taught me quite a lot of recipes."
Family secrets had been handed down including how to make Portuguese-style chicken, squid and octopus, he said.
"She is really into her sweets as well and has taught me how to make rice pudding, Portuguese donuts and breads, which are quite nice really."
The 16-year-old, who is studying towards level 2 NCEA in hospitality and catering, has also taken up a stint in a new cafe venture at the college.
Every Friday, students made slices and coffee that the teachers could buy, he said.
The mint slice and tam slice were top sellers.
He believed cooking skills were not being lost on the younger generation and there was a range of options available through the college that focussed on food, nutrition and life skills.
Using his imagination on culinary fare was great, he said, despite the odd hiccup.
"Every now and then I will make a mistake that I will learn from but the teachers are quite good at picking it up and correcting us."
Principal Robert Mangan said the college had a large home economics department which was popular and Year 13 students could undertake a cooking for flatting option.