Knows what it takes

AMRITA Chand knows what it’s like to work the extra mile, whether its overcoming sexist comments or the long hours of work, it’s the environment that drives her.

The demi chef, who plies her trade at the Grand Pacific Hotel, was the lucky recipient of a three-month training program at the world renowned culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand Institute early this year.

It was a dream come true for the 28-year-old who has come a long way six years ago. The mother of one not only completed her training there, but took home the celebrated Joie de Vivre award for her tireless efforts.

“I felt really happy about the award and the training,” said Amrita. “Cheffing is mostly a male-dominated field and people tend to look down on you. They think you’re not able to keep up with the pressure and carrying heavy stuff, but I guess you can do anything if you put your heart into it.”

The training program was part of the 2017 WWF-Pacific Sustainable Seafood Project scholarship which Amrita won.

The Sustainable Seafood Project is a partnership between WWF-New Zealand, WWF-Pacific, Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand Institute and the New Zealand Aid Program. The aim of this project is securing food, fisheries and a sustainable seafood future in Fiji.

Under the partnership, chefs in Fiji are able to secure a scholarship for the 10-week course at Le Cordon Bleu’s campus in Wellington.

Amrita says she’s come a long way from her first job at the Mango Bay Resort and Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa.

“When I started at Sofitel I didn’t really know how to go about things so I had to try and learn whatever came my way.

“My mum was my great inspiration. Growing up we used to love making our favourite fish curry dish and other Indian dishes. This paved the way for my culinary journey,” she said.

Amrita is completing an Advanced Diploma in leadership and management at the Australian Pacific College in Suva while juggling family and work. But knowing her enthusiasm, it hasn’t slowed her one bit.

“I’ve had the chance to learn so much at Le Cordon Bleu and there are so many new cooking techniques I want to take back to Fiji,” she said. “Le Cordon Bleu chefs are really willing to teach and are so helpful with good feedback.

“Unlike our training in Fiji, the chefs there actually carry out cooking demonstrations during class. So it was easy to learn as we watched. Then they told us to do it. They let us choose our ingredients and whip up a dish within a timeframe.

“It was invigorating. The chefs would then tell us where we went wrong and how we could improve ourselves.”

There’s no stopping yet for Amrita. She has aspirations to become an executive chef, position that is second in command to the head chef.

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