At age 14, Adam Dickson left school and hopped on a flight to Australia. It was the start of a long and colourful career which has enabled him to travel and work around the globe as a chef, create featured recipes for newspapers and magazines, and collaborate on a cookbook which also featured Gordon Ramsay and a host of other celebrity chefs. Adam has also been named Australia’s Northernmost Chef – twice.

“I’ve done a lot of groovy stuff,” he admitted. He’s owned a hot dog stand, various pub kitchens, and his own restaurant in New Zealand. He’s worked in the kitchen on gas and oil rigs, catered for events like the America’s Cup and Sydney Olympics, and been a tour chef for tourists on the Kokoda Trail. “I’ve cooked in a lot of strange places for a lot of rich people, celebrities and the elite” he said. His career has seen him work in restaurants in Sydney, Alice Springs, Cape York – hence the title of Northernmost Chef – and others throughout Europe.

Dickson now serves as Assessment & Membership Coordinator for the Restaurant Association, a role which involves providing apprentice chefs with their mid- and end-of-apprenticeship ‘capstone’ assessments. As an ex-tutor and employer, Dickson is an advocate of on-the-job training. “They’re working in the industry and learning as they go. They have to show that they’ve mastered the basic skills and our capstone assessments measure their progress.”

In contrast to the competitive and secretive restaurant industries found elsewhere in the world, Dickson said that the New Zealand hospitality industry is much more open and friendly. “Many restaurant owners will encourage their chefs to learn new skills from other businesses and are happy share their knowledge as well.”

Having exposure to other regions and cuisine styles is important. “There are kids in the South Island who have never experienced Pacific cuisine and likewise there are kids in Auckland who have never had that same experience with deep south hospitality,” he explained. “It’s good for them to be exposed to new things.”

Another component of Dickson’s role at the Association is helping restaurants with their Food Control Plans. Some restaurant owners aren’t sure where to begin and through his role at the Association, Dickson is keen to help. He worked with Restaurant Association partner iMonitor to create an online Food Safety Programme. “The system is easy to set up and stay on top of and the labour cost savings are immense,” he explained.

If you’d like to arrange a meeting with Adam, or any of the RA team, email or call 0800 737 827.