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Arjun Singh

International Diploma in Cookery Graduate

Arjun Singh at his workplace, Chateau Tongariro

Arjun Singh came to UCOL wanting to expand his culinary skills. Now he’s working at one of New Zealand’s most renowned hotels.

After finishing his schooling in India, Arjun worked at Pizza Hut for four years before moving onto a curry kitchen.  He had grown to really love cooking and wanted to branch out into new cuisines. 

 “I was keen to learn new cuisines. I had learnt how to make Italian pizzas and Indian curries, but I needed to learn more. So I came to UCOL to learn international cuisines.”

Arjun enrolled in UCOL’s International Diploma in Cookery, which would give him the skills to prepare and cook a range of cold larder dishes, hot kitchen dishes, and a variety of patisserie and deserts.

“I chose to study at UCOL because it has a very good reputation. I had friends who were studying there and they told me that the teachers were very involved in their students’ learning.”

“I wanted to come to New Zealand because I love the nature and the environment here.  You can go on a lot of great outdoor adventures. It’s also good to be able to experience a different kind of lifestyle.”

Arjun found the course to be an eye-opener, as he got to work with food he had little to no experience with back home. 

“Cooking things like steak and pork were very new for me. In New Zealand, people often eat medium rare steak so that was an interesting thing to learn and put into practice.”

He says his lecturers had a supportive teaching style, and he felt he could turn to them if he needed extra help with the course material or if he felt homesick. 

“One of the Chefs gave me a disc full of his own personal recipes, which was really helpful. Things like that show that they really want you to succeed.” 

With the International Diploma in Cookery being taught a UCOL’s Whanganui campus, Arjun says he really enjoyed living in what is nicknamed “The River City”.

Whanganui is a nice, quiet, beautiful town. My accommodation was very close to UCOL. I didn’t have any difficulty coming to Whanganui, and the people were very welcoming.”  

He says that it helped that he was living with other Indian students from his programme.

“It was good because if we had questions about study, personal problems, or if we were feeling home sick, we were able to talk and help each other out.  I had a great time there.” 

As part of the course, Arjun interned at the famous Chateau Tongariro Hotel for four weeks. He made such a good impression that the Head Chef offered him a job once he finished his studies.

Now he is working as a Commis Chef for the Chateau’s Pihanga Café.

“I’m living in the Chateau, so I get to wake up every day to an awesome view of the Tongariro National Park.” 

Arjun says he valued the chance to work in a commercial kitchen while completing his course. 

“It’s a big step up going from the kitchen on campus to a commercial kitchen. You’re working at a much faster pace.”

“I’ve still got so much to learn, so I’m very happy to be in the position I am. I want to keep learning and gradually work my way up.”   


Chateau Tongariro is a world-class historic hotel located on Mt Ruapehu - one of New Zealand's most popular tourist attractions.

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