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Zach Meads

Cookery and Baking Graduate

A photograph of Zach Means in UCOL's commercial kitchen

Coming from a family where food is a major part of daily life, Zach Meads always had an interest in cooking. When he enrolled at UCOL, this interest turned into his career choice.

With a scholarship, determination to succeed and the support from lecturers, Zach thrived at UCOL and never looked back.

While still at school, Zach took on all the opportunities available at UCOL with U-Skills and STAR programmes.

“These programmes and the amazing lecturer support helped kick-start my career in hospitality,” he says.

From there, armed with fundamental skills he was able to pathway onto other UCOL programmes - with great results.

Zach gained a Youth Guarantee Scholarship to start off his first full-time semester fees-free in a Certificate in Professional Cookery Level 3. 

He says the scholarship solidified his choice to study at UCOL as the best thing to do for his career. 

“From my first-hand experience I can vouch that UCOL’s teaching style and all the support they give makes it the perfect place to study.”

During Zach’s time at UCOL as a Youth Guarantee student he competed in two culinary competitions in the Team event class. “Winning two gold medals at Hawke's Bay Regional Salon and Nestle Toque d’Or culinary competitions was a major highlight.”

At the end of 2015 Zach was rewarded for all his hard work. He came away from UCOL with both Level 3 and 4 Professional Cookery qualifications with Distinction as well as the City and Guilds Diploma in Cookery Level 4.

At his graduation ceremony Zach was also awarded the Sharon Mann Memorial Award for excellence.

Continuing to further his skills in 2016, Zach went on to study the New Zealand Certificate in Baking and Pastry Level 3 at UCOL, while working part time at one of Manawatu’s best restaurants, Amayjen. He also won gold and silver awards at the National Salon, before claiming silver at the New Zealand WorldSkills Competition.

2017 saw Zach enrol in the New Zealand Diploma in Cookery (Advanced), while also continuing his success in competitions. He won gold at the New Zealand Chefs Hawke’s Bay Salon, then took out the title of Commis Chef of the Year at the 2017 New Zealand Hospitality Championships.

In the near future Zach would love to travel, learn and experience other countries cuisines. “I want to experience the industry and work hard but ultimately I dream of starting my own restaurant.”

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