Ohakune Hamburger Restaurant Staff Benefit from UCOL Program

Sous chefs at The Blind Finch Hamburgeria & Bakehouse in Ohakune jumped at the chance to earn a UCOL cooking qualification while on the job.

Diana Csore in the kitchen of The Blind Finch

In October, UCOL launched the New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4) (In-work), which combines on-the-job training with classroom and online learning. The program is designed for people working as a cook or chef at least 20 hours a week and without a formal qualification in the kitchen.

Derek Allomes, owner and chef of The Blind Finch, thought the program would be a great opportunity for his two chefs who did not have qualifications. After he told them about it, they were excited to take on the challenge.

“They’re embracing this transition to learning, and the foundational knowledge and confidence they’ve gained is really reflected in their work,” Allomes says.

“As the course progresses, I think we will see even more confidence from them. They were a little nervous about taking a formal apprenticeship, but they come back from classes having done things that we don’t often do in our kitchen.

One of the staff, Diana Csore, says she signed up for the program because it was a great opportunity to upgrade. She has worked at the Blind Finch for five years, starting at the front of the house before moving into the hamburgeria kitchen as a sous chef. Csore now works in the company’s popular bakery.

“I thought the program would be good for me because I could learn new things. Derek taught me many, many things, but I want to learn even more.

Csore’s studies began with a six-day block course at UCOL Whanganui. Since then, she has been going to UCOL once a fortnight for a day of lessons. The rest of her learning is done online and at work, where she is visited by a UCOL lecturer.

Csore says she enjoyed learning new techniques and recipes. A highlight for her was when she learned how to make scones from scratch.

Csore had nerves approaching the program, but she was very well supported and everything is going well.

“I thought maybe I was too old to study, but my husband told me it’s never too late to learn. I’m from Indonesia and was worried about my English, but was told it wouldn’t be a problem. Our speaker, Jan, is very good and patient. The paperwork can be difficult, but little by little I am learning.

Csore says she would recommend the program to anyone working in a kitchen who wants to get a qualification and progress.

“I have already recommended it to my friends. I tell them ‘Look at me. I can do it, so you can too. I can’t wait to get my certificate.


UCOL is part of Te Pūkenga. Te Pūkenga was created to better meet the needs of learners and employers by bringing together workplace, on-campus and online learning across Aotearoa in New Zealand. By January 1, 2023, Te Pūkenga will create a unified and sustainable public network of regionally accessible professional and applied learning.
Together, we aim to provide excellent quality education opportunities that help learners, employers and communities acquire the skills, knowledge and abilities that Aotearoa needs now and for the future.

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