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Nat Jones

Chef Lecturer / Transition Coordinator

A photograph of UCOL Chef Lecturer Nat Jones.

Growing up in Carterton Nat Jones now a Chef Lecturer at UCOL knew she wanted a career in the hospitality industry "I asked my parents if I could leave Kuranui College at the end of 6th form if I got accepted into the UCOL Wairarapa Cookery course.

I knew I wanted to be a chef and wanted to get on with learning the trade. They said yes and from there I did the full-time cookery course in 2002 where we also did a bit of front of house service. We also ran restaurants which were lots of fun."

Following her training, Nat applied to be a chef in the Royal New Zealand Navy and served just over eight years with the Navy. "I held many roles from junior chef in the main kitchens to leading chef role, to sole charge chef on HMNZS Hinau, IC of the Officers Mess where I created menu's for high-end functions, represented the Navy at a number of New Zealand Culinary fares competitions and training chefs to also compete and bringing home some medals along the way, in 2008 I was named Chef of the Navy and was awarded a commendation for my cooking."

"While still in the Navy, I would go do work experience at EURO, a high-end restaurant on the waterfront in Auckland once a week to gain skills and new ideas for function menus in the Navy.

I also completed a certificate in management through open polytechnic as I wanted to be a better chef when managing the staff."

Nat is a keen learner and focused on taking her training further "At Weltec I did the six month patisserie course and left the Navy. One completing the course I returned to Auckland where I had a go and train as a bakery manager at Countdown which wasn't for me. I then moved onto sole charge of a small kitchen in a cafe."

She then became a mum and set her eyes on completing a Bachelor degree "At Otago Polytechnic I completed the Bachelor of Culinary arts, from my previous studies. I was able to cross-credit the first two years and just needed to complete the last year. It required me to travel to Dunedin twice for a couple of workshops. I said I'll have to bring my six month old son who is breast fed. They said to bring a support person who can bring him in for feeds throughout the day. Don't ask me how I did it first-time mum doing a degree and travelling but I did it."

A change of scene saw Nat giving back to the community by becoming involved in the local Playcentre undertaking the Playcentre Early Childhood Education Level 4 training, where she soon became the treasurer, session coordinator, writing a back to basic cooking workshop, facilitating workshops, and cooking with kids on session every week that she was on duty.

From here she moved back to Carterton and in the middle of 2017 the Bakery Lecturer job at UCOL was advertised and she applied "I remember walking back into the kitchen and feeling right at home. I had a successful course and wanted to get back in."

"2018 seen me applying for all the jobs that were coming up at UCOL Wairarapa. I landed the Cookery Lecturer role helping teach New Zealand Certificate in Cookery, the kitchen technician role and a Transition coordinator role. It has been a full on year with also completing my numeracy and literacy training and my adult teaching certificate on top of work and family."

"We are drawing to the end of the year with all the New Zealand Certificate in Cookery students looking to all pass next week."

When asked where to next "Hopefully right here, as I really want to help make a positive change with our community."

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