Sharnee Gardyne-Palmer is a purebred Southlander, growing up in the Southland town of Gore. Having always enjoyed cooking and regularly helping her grandma prepare dishes, she started working at the Gore RSA four years ago, waitressing, doing dishes and cooking in the kitchens. On graduating from high school, Sharnee continued working at the RSA, finding she really enjoyed the cooking side of things and making it her full-time job.
When one of her colleagues finished studying the New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 3) at Southern Institute of Technology (SIT), and expressed how much she had enjoyed it, it got Sharnee thinking that she could potentially look into studying the course herself. When her work approached her and offered to pay for her to undertake the Level 3 Cookery course, she grabbed the opportunity with both hands, thinking “why not?!”.
Sharnee explains that the tutors are fantastic at making sure everyone knows the basics, and helping those students with less experience get up to speed. The Level 3 Cookery programme covers simple dishes while the Level 4 Cookery course then builds on the skills and knowledge gained in Level 3 and students go on to produce more complex creations.
Sharnee’s favourites are currently desserts. She loves the intricate work included in a lot of the decorating of desserts and finds creating them the most enjoyable of the dishes they have worked on in class. The stand out desserts she is most proud of include her croquembouche – a French dessert consisting of choux pastry balls piled into a cone and bound with threads of caramel. Often served at weddings, baptisms and first communion events in Italy and France, it is a complicated dessert that can be seen on the likes of Masterchef. The other desserts she really enjoyed creating were the crème torts.
Having discovered while studying that she has a real passion for cookery and it isn’t just a course to help her learn a few more skills she can use within her job at the RSA, Sharnee is now looking towards the future and thinking what she can do with her cookery skills in terms of creating a career. Top of the list at the moment is the idea of working in the kitchens of a cruise ship. Being able to combine her passion for cookery with travelling sounds like an ideal option!
Cookery isn’t the only passion Sharnee has though. She is also an avid rugby player, having played for Eastern Rugby in Southland last year and for school teams while at high school. Unfortunately her commitment to her studies means that she has taken a break from rugby this year, but is very keen to get back into it for 2019. For the moment though, Sharnee is happily creating the 3-4 dishes required in each average cookery class and is enjoying learning from her tutors and putting her learning into practice with classmates.
“One of the best things about studying the New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4) has been meeting all the different people in my class. We are a mixture of different cultures but we all get on really well with our shared passion for food”.
While Sharnee doesn’t love the assessments as she finds them stressful, when not being assessed she can easily create work plans and put out multiple dishes.
“I would definitely recommend studying cookery at SIT, it’s been an awesome experience so far and I have learned so much”.