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From unemployment to a bright future in the kitchen

August 16, 2021

Lewis Fun-nell is enjoying working at Sazio Pasta Bar in Hastings and studying at EIT.

When Lewis Fun-nell’s friend commented that he needed to get a job after years of unemployment, he did something about it and now he is working and studying part-time at EIT.

After leaving school in Year 12 in 2018, Lewis spent a long time “wondering what I was going to do with my life”.

“Eventually a friend of mine just said: ‘You’ve been sitting around for too long, go get a job. A mate of mine is looking for a dishie.’”

“During those years, I couldn’t be bothered doing anything, but then I realised that I was wasting my life. Looking back, I really wish I had pushed myself a bit harder.”

It was the incentive he needed and in October last year, he was hired as a kitchen hand at Sazio Pasta Bar in Hastings. He has not looked back and in February this year he enrolled in the Level 4 New Zealand Certificate of Cookery programme through EIT’s School of Tourism and Hospitality. He is studying part-time over two years as part of the In Work programme, which sees him which sees him at EIT one day a week for both theory classes and practical learning.

Lewis, 19,  says the EIT programme is helping him in his job, where he is involved in service and some preparation work with desserts and appetisers.

“I am really enjoying the programme and it’s definitely made me a bit more creative and helped me build up the theory side of hospitality.”

“It is good because I am learning the actual names for the cooking techniques I have used, but just did not know what they were called. I have also learnt the formal set up of the kitchen brigade and how it operates.”

Lewis has another year and a half to go with his studies and will be at the level of a Commis Chef when he gets his certificate.

“I will come out of it having basically built up two years of a solid foundation, bringing together all the knowledge and information I need to go forward in my career.”

Lewis acknowledges that he would not have been able to study at EIT without the support of Sazio, especially Head Chef and Owner, Dan Pistone.

Lewis has also enjoyed getting into the training kitchen at EIT.

“I have really enjoyed the savoury classes we do. The cooking I do there is very different to what I do at work. I enjoy trying different things.”

That spirit of adventure is also playing a role in his future plans, with the aim of using his skills to travel the world and “just cook” after he finishes his studies.

“If COVID-19 is still an issue in two years’ time, I will stick around and go on to the Level 5 programme,” says Lewis.

Sazio’s owner and head chef, Dan Pistone, says: “It has been great to see Lewis develop in such a short time, moving from a kitchen hand to a cook in the kitchen. Lewis brings a positive attitude to work and his commitment to his new career is remarkable.”

Lewis’s Chef-Tutor at EIT’s School of Tourism and Hospitality, Earl Zapf says Lewis has successfully completed the first of 4 modules and is an excellent student with a 100% attendance record thus far.

“He is engaged and shows willingness to learn. The part time in work learning option of our Level 4 programme is an excellent starting point for him and I look forward to guiding him along the way,” says Earl.