Home' Hospitality Business : HB MAY 2017 Contents SCHEME PAYS DIVIDENDS
From trainee to full time chef; Sirathasan (Tash)
Ariyaratnam, and mentor/chef Hemi Tahu.
har ing his whakapapa along with his kitchen expertise (which,
in Hemi Tahu’s case, is considerable), is paying dividends for
unemployed people selected for a Shepherds Ar ms Hotel/
Ministry of Social Development training programme.
It’s also paying dividends for the Shepherds Ar ms, with two trainees
proving so adept they’ve been taken on full time in the hotel kitchen.
Greg Halford and Edwin Jacob, owners of the histor ic Wellington
pub on Thor ndon’s Tinakor i Road, were looking to make better use of
their kitchen, in a helping kind of way.
We looked at school lunch programmes, but found they were already
well catered for, says Greg. “We knew the city’s restaurants were facing a
dire shortage of kitchen hands and sous chefs, so we went to the MSD
about offer ing a kitchen training programme for the unemployed.”
Greg and his executive chef Hemi, a for mer Chef of the Nation,
Wharekauhau Lodge executive chef and long time restaurateur,
developed the programme from scratch. It’s very hands on, says Greg.
“They don’t sit down and theor ise, they actually do it. They work in
the kitchen, alongside Hemi, as part of the team. They clean the pans,
label the food, Julianne the car rots and they progress to cooking.”
Kitchen organisation, unifor m requirements, safety, personal and
workplace hygiene and OSH requirements are all covered, along with
food preparation, he adds.
“We also feed them and after they’ve lear ned some skills they’ll cook
“The ‘client ‘trains for 15 hours a week in five hour shifts.They start on
day shifts where it’s mainly about prep, then we’ll get them in on Friday
and Saturday nights so they see the results of their prepping, they also see
the kitchen under pressure and get a feel of what hospitality is all about.”
Yes, there have been failures, admits Greg. However, in the past two
years, upwards of 20 young trainees have completed the four to six
week programme and moved into regular employment. The successes
include refugees, since an approach to join the programme by refugee
resettlement agency, the Red Cross.
The key is selecting the r ight people, says Greg. “We take any age. I
interview them; get an understanding of their background and what’s
important to them. I tell each one, tur n up with some nous.You need
to prove to us you want to work, not just tick a box for the MSD, and
we’ll get you a job. A lot have no qualifications and say they got kicked
out of school. I tell them well so did I so that’s no excuse.”
Once ‘enlisted’, Hemi takes over. Greg says another key to the
programme’s success is Hemi’s nature with people and how he is
considerate of their culture, wherever they might be from. For the
trainees, they also know they are being coached by someone who has
been up there, at the top.
“Hemi talks to them about their family, where they come from.
He tells them about his own marae and family and upbringing with
his uncles, fishing and hunting in the bush.That gives them a sense of
belonging, especially when they are Maor i.”
Some of them have had a rough background, it’s good if we can give
them a sense of belonging, to feel part of the team here, says Hemi.
Placing their ‘graduates’ is also part of the deal, explains Greg. “After
four to six weeks Hemi gives me an idea of where the trainee is at and
we look to place them. I monitor the jobs being advertised and if there
is something we think would suit a client we’ll go for it and I’ll referee
for them. Some of the trainees we get are good, keen workers, they
just don’t know how to apply for a job, or they get asked if they have
exper ience and that’s the road block.”
There’s certainly been no roadblock for two trainees, Josh Te Kepa
and Sri Lankan refugee, Sirathasan (Tash) Ariyaratnam; both of them
now fully employed in the Shepherds Ar ms kitchen. “I used to cook in
Malaysia, now I’m happy to be lear ning so much in this kitchen about
Western and English style food,” says Tash. n
40 | May 2017 | Hospitality BUSINESS
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