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Young Mum Thriving in New Career as a Chef

Maraina Shone’s passion for cooking and her desire to be the best mum she can be steered her towards UCOL Wairarapa’s cooking programme. Now she loving life as a chef.

“I got pregnant at 15 and became a mum at 16. After my son was born, his dad passed away and I got myself into a bit of a rut. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, and who I wanted to be for my baby,” says Maraina.

“I’ve always loved to cook and had dreamed of being chef, so I thought UCOL would be good for me and it definitely has been.”

Maraina enrolled in the NZ Certificate in Cookery, which gives students the skills to make a range of hot kitchen, patisserie, and dessert dishes. It also sets them up for further study or work in the hospitality industry.

“It was a good commitment for me and I ended up making some friends who will stay friends forever,” says Maraina.

“I had a fantastic tutor and my friends supported me through study. I couldn’t have done it without them. My tutor, Eddie Bleach, is a very selfless man and would give anything for his students.”

At the end of the programme Maraina and her classmates hosted a restaurant night with three-course meals for their families.

“All of our families came and were able to see how we had progressed over the year. It was nice to show off all the skills that we had learnt.”

“Because I hadn’t worked in the industry before, it really opened my eyes to what it would be like and the pace you’d have to work at. I really enjoyed it.”

The class also got to put their pastry baking skills to the test, holding a high tea to raise money for the Breast Cancer Foundation.

Having graduated in 2021, Maraina is now working as a chef at the popular Clareville Bakery. The team makes everything from scratch, so Maraina is there early in the morning crafting sandwiches, salads, and other food for the cabinets. Throughout the day, Mariana is whipping up a variety of all-day breakfast orders.

“I’m loving it. I’m starting to develop my presentation skills more and I enjoy the adrenaline rush I get when we’re busy.”

Maraina says her UCOL studies prepared her well to start her career.

“Everything that our tutor taught us were skills that you need to take into the industry.”

“The course gave me the confidence that I could work as a chef. Before then, I knew I could cook, but I needed the drive and the course gave me the right attitude to do what I wanted with my life. I did it so I could be somebody and do something that I enjoy for my child. I’m excited for where it could take me.”

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