An apprentice chef with an outstanding future, Napier’s Harata Neera has scored two major successes within the same week.
Employed at Pacifica on Marine Parade, Harata won the Regal Marlborough Salmon Supporting Chef category in the Food Hawke’s Bay on Monday night (19 May).
On Wednesday evening (21 May), she was named the Top Hospitality Modern Apprentice at the Greenmeadows Rotary and EIT Hawke’s Bay Trade Awards.
EIT’s Head of School for the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Trades, Jenny Robertson says the back-to-back wins are a tribute to Harata’s remarkable talent, training and dedication to the art of cuisine.
EIT apprentices and trained chefs were finalists in almost every category of the Food Hawke’s Bay Hospitality Awards. Two of the four finalists in the Supporting Chef category were also EIT trained – Andrea Davis from Mr D and Mint Restaurant’s Courtney Booth .
“That’s a measure of the success of the Modern Hospitality Apprenticeship scheme,” Jenny says, “which enables students to work in kitchens while studying to complete their National Certificate in Hospitality (Cookery) qualifications.”
Under the Hospitality Modern Apprentice scheme, students like Harata are employed and mentored by Hawke’s Bay’s top chefs while EIT chef tutors oversee their study.
Harata’s introduction to the industry was washing dishes at Pacifica as a Friday night job. Recognising the Napier Girls’ High School student’s potential, executive chef Jeremy Rameka offered her a full-time position at what is one of Hawke’s Bay’s most highly-rated restaurants.
“It was a stepping stone from school,” says Harata, who had already shown she had what it takes in winning the New Zealand King Salmon College Challenge at the 2011 Salon Culinaire – New Zealand’s premiere culinary and service industry competition.
Turning down her prize, a scholarship to attend the Auckland Hotel and Chefs Training School, she stayed at Pacifica and took up the apprenticeship offered through EIT.
Harata is now nearly halfway to completing her Diploma in Professional Chef Practice.