Nicole Barnes has a further reason to be excited about graduating with EIT’s Advanced Diploma in Professional Cookery this week – her decision to retrain as a chef has paid off with a job at Church Road Winery’s restaurant.
After leaving Central Hawke’s Bay College, Nicole left for Wellington to study tourism and event planning, and it was during her four years in the capital that she met her fiancé, Swiss-born Lorenzo Zanoli.
The couple moved to Hawke’s Bay when Lorenzo, an engineer, was offered a job at ENZA Foods in Hastings.
Nicole was happy about coming back – she appreciates the region’s easier pace and her parents live in Waipukurau – but she felt her job prospects would be enhanced if she had a trade or skill of some sort.
“I chose cookery because I’ve always had a passion for food,” she says. “I was researching recipes on YouTube and watching the Food Network channel on TV.”
Big on baking muffins, biscuits and cakes, she originally thought she might become a patisserie chef. However, moving through her study programme, she found she preferred general savoury cookery.
Besides, she points out with a smile, “my really warm hands melt the chocolate desserts!”
Last year, Nicole represented EIT in a three-member team awarded a silver medal at Toque d’Or, a national competition for hospitality students.
“It was definitely the highlight of my year.”
Although the 26-year-old feels a little sad that the routine of study is behind her, she’s also excited about building her career as a chef.
“EIT has given me the understanding of cooking and food that I wanted and I’m happy to be adding to that knowledge,” she says of working in the hospitality industry. “You’ve got to keep learning and evolving – that’s what makes life interesting.”
Planning their wedding later this year, Nicole and Lorenzo are happily settled in Taradale but aren’t ruling out overseas travel at some future date.
“I would like to go to Switzerland and work over there – “it’s one of those experiences to have in life, to work overseas, especially in Europe.”
And, she points out, her EIT diploma is a very transportable qualification for working in other countries.