Top Chef Says Apprentices Are Good For Business
New Zealand punches above its weight in everything that
matters. From sport to science, Kiwis have been
internationally recognised as among the best in the world.
It’s the same in hospitality, with local chefs known for
their great skills and ability. Many have worked in – or
run – some of the best restaurants here and in the
With over 30 years’ experience,
Wellington-based multi-award-winning chef Rex Morgan is a
familiar face. He’s a New Zealand Beef & Lamb
Ambassador, culinary judge and TV personality, and
well-known to customers of the popular Boulcott Street
Bistro restaurant where he is co-owner, overseeing the
kitchen side of the business.
He’s also a
fan of New Zealand’s cookery
“Any good chef should
seriously consider taking on an apprentice,” says Rex.
“You get to hands-on train these guys your way, with the
guidance of ServiceIQ. They are internally assessed as you
go; no need for lengthy block courses or losing them a day
each week for courses.
“An apprentice can
become a real asset – your own home-made product. The
training, supported by industry training organisation
ServiceIQ, can adapt to your business. Timing of what is
taught, when and how suits the business. The record-keeping
shows where the trainee is at, where they can go next, and
what help they might need from their chef or from
Apprentice is a
Rex notes that the
Boulcott Street Bistro has a full team right now. “I
recently had an apprentice. If we needed a new team member,
then an apprentice would be a definite. There are so many
good things about having a person with the right attitude on
a cookery apprenticeship, including creating an asset for
the company as well as the industry. The government’s new
Boost helps an employer with up to $18,000 for the first
two years. But that ‘right attitude’ – from both the
potential apprentice and the chef –must come
Attitude is something Rex mentions
a lot. He has some great advice for chefs thinking about
taking on a cookery apprentice, whether that be in a
restaurant or catering setting.
“As a chef
with an apprentice, you teach the skills and build the
passion. That requires the right attitude on both sides.
I’ve done a fair bit of teaching and I love seeing people
learn and grow. You have to accept that at some point they
may well want to leave and get experience elsewhere. I think
that makes a good chef even better.
all takes time, as do the teaching and verification needed.
If you don’t agree with all that, or can’t commit to the
time, then having an apprentice might not be right for you.
It’s still worth talking to ServiceIQ though, to really
understand the process. It has changed over the years, so
what you’ve heard or experienced might not be today’s
“It’s just as important that
the apprentice is keen. They need to understand the
realities of hospitality and working in a kitchen and –
despite that – still want to be there. They also need to
understand the benefits too – that they are earning and
learning, that what they’re doing is building a life-long
career that offers global
“As with most things in
life – the more you put in, the more you get out. The
great thing about the ServiceIQ cookery team is that they
understand both want the employer and apprentice needs, and
what the responsibilities of each are. They are upfront,
practical and offer ongoing support to the business and the
apprentice chef and will explain what’s needed and set out
the commitment from all three parties (chef, apprentice and
the ServiceIQ advisor). It really helps to have an early
conversation with a ServiceIQ advisor, whether you’re just
toying with the idea or already have a person in mind for
the apprenticeship. It’s valuable – but free –
Your next apprentice is out there
Rex acknowledges that it’s easier to talk
about having the right person – with the right attitude
– than it can be finding one.
seem a bit ‘yeah, right!’ but the right people are out
there. Over the years, I’ve given talks to local school
hospitality classes and there are kids there that you know
are keen. That might change once they get in the kitchen,
but a part-time job, for example kitchenhand or basic
prepping, will help them and you see if they have what it
takes. Chefs need to remember how we started out, and what
might have helped or hindered us.
days, apprenticeships are available to anyone. The age limit
has gone, so good people – with some life experience and
maturity – are looking for a career change. Some will make
great apprentices. If you ask around, you can find committed
As with other aspects of cookery
apprenticeships, Rex says that the industry training
organisation, ServiceIQ, might be able to help a business
find a good potential apprentice as it’s closely involved
with hospitality teaching in schools, and with some of the
school cookery competitions.
right for the business, you really should consider an
apprentice, and you really should talk to ServiceIQ to see
if it’s right. And, if it is, see what help and support
they can give you. With cookery apprenticeships being
fees-free, plus now having access to extra government
funding, there’s probably never been a better time to
consider the apprentice option.”
There is information on ServiceIQ’s three hospitality apprenticeships (cookery, catering, and food & beverage), plus a wealth of other on-job training options at https://www.serviceiq.org.nz/training/hospitality/.