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“It takes a special kind of person to love a career in cooking. There’s nothing better than a full-on service that’s going well, and part of the appeal is knowing that it can fall over at any time.”
Hughie comes to tutoring at NorthTec with a lifetime of hospitality experience behind him and the challenge of inspiring new chefs in front of him. “The best thing about the tutoring is watching the students grow. I get school leavers through to middle age people up-skilling, and I love extracting the best out of them. Obviously part of that is to feed some knowledge in as well.”
Hughie came here from England in the early 1990s and set up Waikokopu Café on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in 1998. “This year we were voted Northland’s best café by our hospitality industry peers in the Matariki Hospitality Awards.”
This year was also time for Hughie to change focus. “We’ve given our staff more ownership in running the café and I have walked towards tutoring. I chose NorthTec because there is a new group of people here keen to lift the benchmark.”
“NorthTec has a big role to play in the growth of Northland as a destination place for people to work and stay. It interacts with a lot of industry and I can help with that in hospitality.”
Hughie is on the executive of the New Zealand Chefs’ Association, he has done extensive industry judging, he is the Salon Director for Northland Salon Culinaire, and he is the instigator of Kids Can Cook! - a live cook off at the Waimate North Show.
Getting school students to explore cooking is also part of Hughie’s passion. “Creating a fun environment is a key to encouraging people into the industry. Some come with unreal expectations from watching Masterchef.”
“”My job is to help grow our industry and NorthTec is a perfect base to do that from.”