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Turning a Passion for Cooking into a Career

Winning a study visit to New Zealand has fuelled Thai teenager Boonyawee Paksival’s passion for a career in the food industry.

Boonyawee, 16, was one of two lucky winners of the New Zealand Young Genius Chef competition, which was run by Education New Zealand and Srinakharinwirot University Prasarnmitr Demonstration School (Secondary) in Bangkok.

Her prize was a 12-day trip around New Zealand’s South Island, where she discovered what it would be like to study food and cooking here.

In Dunedin, Boonyawee joined a language class at Otago Polytechnic – “very fun”, she says – and joined a small group of students in a cooking class.

The class planned a dish that combined Thai and New Zealand cuisine, chose ingredients from the campus herb garden, made their dish and then took photos of the finished product.

At Otago Polytechnic’s Central Campus in Cromwell, Boonyawee helped prepare a special dinner at a restaurant and an international shared lunch for students.

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Preparing dinner for special guests at Molyneux Restaurant

“I learned how to plan a dish and the steps it takes from the beginning of a project to the end. I also experienced what it was like to prepare a course dinner for a group of people, which was a really special experience,” says Boonyawee.

“The way they teach in New Zealand is slightly different. They give students more flexibility and freedom in the way they think.”

Boonyawee also visited several secondary schools, where she took part in cooking classes.

The trip finished up in Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital, where Boonyawee went on a gondola and a luge, toured Lake Wakatipu on a vintage steamship, visited a high country sheep farm and watched a performance of the haka, a Māori war dance.

“The view, the scenery, and the weather were beautiful and, at times, unbelievable. The people there are also very friendly and caring. Everyone took very good care of us,” says Boonyawee.

Boonyawee has always loved cooking and is considering studying for a a culinary and business degree.

“If I have the chance, I would definitely choose New Zealand as one of my study destinations,” she says.

“For anyone reading this, I would really recommend you to study or even just travel in New Zealand, as it is a beautiful place and it will be a great memorable experience for you.”



By Linley Boniface

Updated 3 years ago

Linley Boniface is a contract writer for Education New Zealand. She is based in Wellington, her favourite city in New Zealand. A former journalist, Linley spent a year in Montreal, Canada, as a secondary school student. 

*Views expressed are the blogger's own
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