Davin Bonny came to New Zealand in 2019 to further his education at SIT Invercargill, where he studied Cookery Level 3 to Level 5, graduated in December 2021. He says moving here has given him the fresh experiences he was seeking, in the scenery, nature, culture and people of New Zealand.
From Jakarta, Indonesia, Davin had previously studied Hotel Management at BINUS (Bina Nusantara University). In 2017, he first encountered commercial hotel kitchens during his work experience for his qualification, at Hotel Banyan Tree, Bali, followed by Ayana Resort and Spa, spending six months at each location.
When researching for an overseas study destination, Davin’s education agent referred him to SIT. “I thought SIT looked like the best location to study, plus it had a Level 5 Cookery programme and the training kitchen was large and well-equipped.”
Davin was sufficiently convinced through the online research, reviews and talking to SIT alumni to be assured of his choice, and his expectations were fulfilled: “It was one of the best facilities and I gained a lot of practical knowledge from tutors and the course,” he said.
Discovering he shared the same passion for cookery as his like-minded classmates, Davin grew in knowledge and confidence. He noted areas of development included being updated on what the current food trends are and what the outside world is doing/developing (e.g. molecular gastronomy).
Classes were held both morning and afternoon; learning how to use his time wisely and staying busy and productive during the programme were Davin’s priorities. Preferring the practical sessions where it was hands-on learning in the training kitchen, he found the most demanding aspect of the course were some of the required papers.
Other challenges to overcome were missing home and then Covid, which created issues around students being able to complete the course requirements. There was some “losing momentum due to lockdown”, Davin said. However, he was in a good student community, and this support helped him to stay focused.
Studying at SIT caused Davin to adjust his thinking about the seasonal approach to produce. “I used to live in a tropical country that doesn’t have more than two seasons. Each season will have different produce/food products. So it helped me know, react and use whatever produce is available for each particular season,” he said.
Davin’s top experiences at SIT were all based around the great relationships he had with teaching staff and his fellow students. He said “The best things were having supportive tutors, who guide, help and are approachable, and meeting classmates/friends from different cultures and countries who share the same passion as me.”
“It also made me a more responsible person as I was working and studying,” he added.
Alongside the study, he also worked in the industry which helped to put into practice skills learned on the course; “Just to get started, I worked in McDonalds for at least a year, then worked at Meccapresso / Mash catering from December 2021 – to date, as well as Level 5 work experience (100 hours) at Louie’s Restaurant, Invercargill.”
SIT contributed to Davin finding work, he was recommended by his tutor for his current role and there was a job board in the cookery school, which advertised local vacancies the students could apply for.
As career beginnings go, Davin has made a great start, with the intention of going far in the industry. He was recently hand-picked by Vaughan Mabee, (Executive Chef at Amisfield Restaurant & Winery, and Cuisine Chef of the Year 2019/2020), to be offered a role as Commis Chef alongside fellow classmate and graduate, Renz Condino at the lauded venue. And it all came about through volunteering at an Invercargill food industry event in conjunction with Southern Pioneers Food Hub, which allowed him to show his skills and work ethic.
“I want to be working full-time at a workplace such as Amisfield, learning from the best chefs in this country, grab my New Zealand Residency, and I want to have my own restaurant,” Davin said.
He also has a desire to share the cuisine of his birth country, Indonesia, with his community and the people of New Zealand.
When Davin came to NZ, he was looking for a place with a real community atmosphere which he’s been able to find, and he’s embraced the Southland lifestyle. He recognises the significance of other people in his journey and acknowledges their input has helped him to succeed.
“I want to thank Glenn Stridiron, my programme manager and all the tutors, my parents and older brother, also Ethan Flack my mentor and the various chefs from my current and past workplaces, my bench partner and future partner in crime: Renz Condino, and lastly, thanks to my friends who keep pushing me to do my best and are always keen to be my ‘lab rats’ with the different cuisine I try to make, refine and modify at home.”
“The course has helped me build a foundation to becoming a great chef... I have enjoyed my study at SIT and especially being in Invercargill as I met really valuable friends and people that have helped me grow as a person and as a chef also.”
Davin’s advice to those thinking of coming to study at SIT is this: “SIT allows future students to build their foundation on their passions with different ways of learning. They also have good relationships within the hospitality industry: multiple chefs, restaurants and hotels for students to grow.”
“My qualification has truly helped as it allows me build from that foundation and it made me understand the workings of the restaurant.”