ONE of the industry’s best-known personalities is the former president of NZChefs, Anita Sargison, and that is not the least of her claims to fame. In fact, she has been contributing to many facets of the industry for some years and is a symbol of achievement to many of our young culinarians.

Her contribution was marked recently by a life membership of the organisation.

Today, she is the group executive chef of Compass NZ and is currently working on a project to renew and reinvigorate the food served in Air New Zealand’s Koru lounges. That six-month project has just been completed, and the result is amazing.

At the same time, this over-achiever has been undertaking a year-long project of her own to achieve a Bachelor of Culinary Arts out of Otago.

Playing a key role over the past 18 years in the industry organisation NZChefs, she has spent four years as the Wellington branch president and six years as the national president. Anita has been responsible for the launch of some key projects that have now put NZChefs firmly on the map.

All started for the Dunedin-born young lady who spent her childhood years in Central Otago. Her interest in culinary affairs took her through Otago Polytech and moving on graduation to Tiffany’s in Christchurch where her early skills were honed as a sous chef.

With a growing reputation, it was back to Dunedin and then overseas where she had a management role in the restaurants of the Sydney Opera House and several other fine dining establishments.

By 1991 she turned back to New Zealand, joined NZChefs, passed on her skills as a Polytech tutor and picked up the plum appointment as executive chef at Southern Cross before being headhunted to the role as executive chef at Bellamy’s. This significant role last four and a half years responsible for the meals of 1800 people daily in three parliamentary buildings.

Anita’s more recent roles were in response to her love and understanding of Mexican and Aztec history – she moved to the just opened Flying Burrito Bros in Wellington. She had two stints with that organisation, and the second time was about a year ago when she was responsible for the contract to open Peter Jackson’s Great War exhibition at the Dominion Museum.

The industry salutes her contribution and even in the last few weeks she has been seen contributing again as a judge and guide at the National Salon.