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Thuy Mai Dung (Amy)

New Zealand Diploma in Cookery (Advanced) Level 5

After studying international relations and business at university in Vietnam, Thuy Mai Dung was looking for something new. A working holiday to New Zealand fired-up her interest in cookery, so she joined NSIA to launch a career as a chef.

Why did you want to be a chef?
When I came to New Zealand to work and travel for a year I fell in love with the country and the people, so I decided to come back and study. Cookery really appealed to me. It’s interesting and I wanted to learn something new. Before coming to New Zealand I didn’t have any knowledge at all about cooking but now I’m really keen to become a professional chef and learn how to run a kitchen efficiently. Chefs have the opportunity to work and travel, plus they get to try foods from lots of different countries.

How are you enjoying NSIA?
I’d heard about NSIA from my agents and friends – it’s a pretty famous school for cookery. I decided to enrol because I knew I would learn a lot here, and it was definitely the right decision. The tutors are friendly, supportive and very experienced, and they have taught me so much. I’ve improved my knife skills, learnt how to cook food from all over the world, plan menus and manage my time in a busy kitchen. The facilities at NSIA are excellent and students have the opportunity to work in the school restaurant, which provides valuable work experience. I have made so many friends from other countries and now I am on the path to a really good career.

Tell us about your job.
I work as a commis chef for Gina’s Italian Kitchen. It’s my first cooking job in New Zealand and I love it! The staff are so supportive and we have so much fun – we work as a team, we cheer, we laugh, and we celebrate at the end of each night. When I first started I was in charge of desserts and entrees, but now I’ve been promoted and am in charge of pasta and main course. The foundation skills and knowledge I have gained at NSIA help me a lot at work. In fact, I think it would have been quite difficult to learn on the job without my NSIA training.

From here I plan to keep cooking and keep learning, and eventually work my way up to head chef or sous chef in a big restaurant. I believe that when you try hard and work hard you will be successful.

Gina’s Italian Kitchen

Gina’s Italian Kitchen is an almost legendary Auckland restaurant that has been popular for decades, thanks to its flamboyant Italian owners, home-style Italian cuisine, and fun, vibrant atmosphere. Open for lunch and dinner, Gina’s prides itself on offering generous Italian hospitality, and delicious Italian favourites such as pizza, pasta, gnocchi and tiramisu.