A new group of promising young chefs have this week embarked on a culinary journey, starting SKYCITY Auckland’s 2018 Chef Apprenticeship Program to gain an internationally recognised City & Guilds Food Preparation and Culinary Arts qualification.

The three-year program will provide the 15 apprentices a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work within more than 20 different kitchen environments, including SKYCITY’s award winning restaurants and with celebrity chefs Sean Connolly, Nic Watt, Al Brown and Peter Gordon.

SKYCITY Auckland Apprentice Chef Trainer and Coordinator Stephen Thompson enjoys seeing youth thrive with a passion for cooking and is proud to foster new talent.

“It’s an intense but exciting program we’ve got at SKYCITY where the apprentice chefs will experience a range of different kitchen environments and culinary styles over the three years,” he said. “The first year of training begins with working in the main kitchen complex, moving between hot productions, cold larder and pastry kitchens, and they’ll also spend one day with me per week studying both theory and practical subjects towards the City and Guilds Level 1 certificate in food preparation and cooking.”

Upon completion of the program, graduates will be equipped with a wide skill set, having mastered a range of cuisines, and experienced a variety of kitchen environments – a breadth of experience not offered in many other places.

In 2016, SKYCITY Auckland was the first business in Australasia accredited to offer a City & Guilds Food Preparation and Culinary Arts qualification to apprentice chefs, a qualification recognised internationally in over 80 countries.

Third year apprentice Michaela Futter is one of many apprentice chefs to have completed the programme and be offered a full time position as a qualified chef. She has recently been appointed as a Commis Chef at one of SKYCITY’s Federal Street restaurants, Depot.

“I’m so grateful for all of the opportunities SKYCITY has given me,” she said. “I’ve been on many trips, like the duck farm in my second year, but a personal highlight is cooking fine dining at SKYCITY Dining for a Difference with Peter Gordon to raise funds for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. It was an awesome experience to learn from chefs at the top of their game, plus we’re getting paid to learn!”

The apprentice chef programme is a part of SKYCITY’s youth employment programme, giving talented young people opportunities to gain qualifications and develop careers in the hospitality industry.

SKYCITY is one of Auckland’s largest hospitality employers and was named the Young at Heart Youth Employer of the Year in 2016.