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Next stop Bahrain for Wintec-trained chef

Joel Miller couldn’t be happier with the way his life is going right now. The 19-year-old Hamilton chef has just landed a dream job as chef de partie to a royal family in Bahrain.

The Wintec-trained chef “threw himself in the deep end” earlier this year when he joined the team at Josh Emett’s new Hamilton venture, Madame Woo. The restaurant was new, busy and set a high standard which Miller relished. “Being a fresh, new chef going into a brand new and fast growing restaurant was fantastic," he said, “it was sink or swim, the pace was very fast.”

After one year out of the classroom and in the kitchen, he is ready for a new adventure.

Life’s opportunities can be about who you know and Miller’s former Wintec tutor Amy Opperman was the link between an executive chef in Bahrain and the opportunity of a lifetime. It was Opperman who set up the interview.

“I had kept in touch with Joel and I knew he was keen to travel and extend his experience,” she said.

“From a cookery point of view, this job is a great opportunity for Joel to learn new skills as the executive chef is very talented and Joel will learn a lot in this environment. It is a great opportunity to experience a new culture and customs, and the standard is very high.

“There is also the bonus of potential travel and menus that change often, it’s an amazing opportunity that has the potential to set Joel up for life.”

Miller says Wintec teaches the basics and covers a lot of ground in the two years it takes to become a chef.

“You don’t realise how much you do actually learn there, then when you go into the field it’s up to you how you go about applying those skills.

 “You have to be ruthless and by that I mean that if you want to be a good chef and go places, you have to push yourself.” 

Opperman recalls Miller working hard and winning awards at Wintec. As a cookery student he was one of only four people nationwide to be awarded a highly acclaimed City and Guilds Medal of Excellence in March this year, and he also competed and won at the WorldSkills regional competition.

“Joel has been exposed to many opportunities at Wintec. With the help of cookery tutor Shannon Katipa, he has been successful in cookery competitions and he has a unique flair that gives him his own true style, one that will help him shine in his new role.”

The response is humble when asked how he feels his cookery career is going now, “I’m still a super young chef and have a long way to go to get to where I want to be,” says Miller.

 Joel’s advice to future chefs

If you’re doing the same job every day, you should time yourself and better that time until you reach that point where you can’t do it any faster, and you should do that with everything. I believe you should work your way up and travel the world. The world is so big and you don’t want to be stuck in New Zealand your whole career.  You have to venture out and you will get work in some fantastic places around the world.  And above all, try and make a name for yourself!