Taygen Simmons is taking her career to the next level as New Zealand’s first apprentice chef to pass the challenging Commercial Competence Assessment (CCA), an important test and special feature of ServiceIQ’s new chef training programme, the New Zealand Apprenticeship in Cookery.

Simmons started her ServiceIQ apprenticeship at Euro Bar and Restaurant in Auckland straight out of school. Less than three years later she successfully qualified as a professional chef.

To succeed, Simmons needed to demonstrate world-class skills while creating and serving three complex dishes cooked to perfection, in just three hours.

The CCA is deemed of higher value than ‘work competent’ and is critical to gaining a professional chef qualification. In essence, it means that the qualifying chef will have a broad level of fundamental concepts, transferrable knowledge and skills that enable continued high performance from one workplace to another.

They will be able to meet the productivity standards of an experienced chef, which may include speed, volume of output, safety and quality. And they will take full responsibility for their own performance, rectify errors, and deal effectively with unexpected situations.

On her menu: an elegant entrée of lamb rack with vegetables and mint; a main dish of moist pan fried terakihi with crab and chive risotto; and a delicate and refreshing panna cotta with passionfruit sorbet and kaffir lime for dessert.

“It was challenging to complete an apprenticeship at Euro, where, if you can take on responsibility, they will give it to you. I was working 50 to 60 hours a week doing my apprenticeship work on top of that just because I couldn’t fit it in with the world schedule,” said Simmons.

Simmons is working on the garnish and main line sections at the busy restaurant, which means taking responsibility for cooking the perfect steak and succulent fish dishes for hundreds of discerning diners.

It’s another step up in her career, and she relishes having the time put in the work it takes to perform well in that part of the kitchen.

“I love working at Euro and learning from our chefs. Ultimately, I want to travel and experience all the different foods from different cultures. Every chef I’ve worked with at Euro has done it and it seems exactly what you need to do to gain a wider perspective.”