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Shirley Xue Li

Diploma in International Cooking and Patisserie Level 5

•    Name: Xue Li (Shirley)

What is your journey to date?

I was working in a large electrical company in China, when I decided to change my life. I left China to become a chef! I arrived in Auckland and went to the University of Auckland English Language Academy to learn English. My English pathway led me to university study, but my passion for cooking called me to NSIA.

Why did you choose NSIA for your cookery and patisserie course?

I chose NSIA as I had heard it was a really good cookery school and it certainly taught me a lot. So I’m very happy with my choice.

Did you always want to be a chef?

I always cooked at home, and I loved to design my own special dishes with different flavours and cooking methods. When I came to New Zealand I wanted to be a chef and create memorable dishes. It also gives me great satisfaction seeing people enjoying my food. In my career to date, I have over a year and half of experience working in professional kitchens. During my time there I have learnt valuable skills such as time management and working under pressure.

What are the key skills to be a good chef?

Enthusiasm about cookery, and the love of food! But being punctual, hardworking and reliable. Also the technical side, plus time management and creativity.

How has your course at NSIA helped you?

Learning the cooking techniques and skills to make me the best I can be.

What is your current job, and who are you working for?

I was working at the Cordis Hotel as a Commis Chef, and now I am a demi-chef at SkyCity Orbit, an iconic New Zealand destination brasserie. I have learnt so much in my new job, and I really enjoy it as the people are so nice. I’m looking forward to being a great chef one day, and this is my first step on my path.

What does your work involve?

Lots of preparation, it’s very important to know exactly what you’re doing. I also help with the dishes we serve to customers.

What is the most exciting aspect of your job?

Learning lots of things from the kitchen. It is a really big kitchen.

Did your course at NSIA live up to your expectations?

Yes. In every single way, as it has given me a really good foundation for cooking, but also made me improve so much that I will have a very successful career in cooking now.

How did you feel when you were coming to NSIA?

I was really excited. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into cooking and learning.

What were the highlights of your course?

The practical without doubt. I love to be busy and it really prepared me well for life in a busy kitchen.

What did you Learn?

Lots of skills, right across the full spectrum.

How did your NSIA training help you?

Understanding and perfecting the basics, and applying the knowledge from my training has helped me adapt to working in a busy kitchen.

What is one life lesson you learnt during your study and work?

If you want to do it, you can. I have converted the skills and knowledge I learnt, to a real kitchen and it has helped me improve and be on the path to being the best I can be.