A highlight of Ali Bahmad's time at WelTec has been working with Annabel Langbein, a connection he's continued.
“I worked with Annabel in Wellington a few years ago for Visa Wellington On a Plate where she came to WelTec looking for a chef,” says Ali. “We got on well and stayed in touch, and I ended up doing a sustainable seafood culinary competition with her in Bermuda for the America’s Cup last year. And continue to work with her year after year as she needs me.”
Ali is currently cooking alongside Annabel at The Food Shows in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland in 2019.
The chef tutor also works for Ruth Pretty and Westpac Stadium. “It keeps you connected with the industry. You can see what's trending and also where you can help place students for work experience and eventual employment.”
“My goal is to inspire learners to cook with integrity and passion as well as being mindful of the environment and sustainability. Each year I aim to place the students who want to pursue a career in cookery into employment that suits their skill set and personal needs.” says Ali, who teaches Level 4 Cookery, as well as some STAR courses for secondary school students.
“The students and my peers at WelTec all challenge me to be the best version of myself. I want to produce the best cooks and chefs as that's a reflection of myself and the standards we set here.”
Ali trained in Australia and worked there for 15 years in hotels, fine dining restaurants and casual establishments.
“I went pretty much straight out of high school into studying cookery at the InterContinental Hotel School in Sydney. Once I finished my studies I decided I wanted to spend the next few years working in different establishments to gain a better understanding of cookery from all facets. Cooking and working in large hotels is very different to working in restaurants. Often it’s a totally different mind set and skillset you need between the two. I’m thankful to have delved deep into both areas so I’m able to teach first hand from my experiences in both large catering establishments and smaller restaurants (both fine dining and causal).”
He worked at the Hilton Hotel for four and a half years, award winning Italian fine dining restaurants, Saké (fine dining Japanese) and finally before moving over the Tasman, Ali was sous chef of Sydney Cove Oyster Bar and Restaurant for four years.
“You learn from all of those experiences. At the Hilton we had 11 kitchens and the head chef kept pushing me and improving my technique. I worked at one of the Italian restaurants (La Sala) under the late Darren Simpson from pre-opening through to its first year of operation and I can tell you opening a restaurant is quite a different experience again, but so thrilling. Darren has always been instrumental in my cooking, teaching and the way I deliver my classes.”
He got itchy feet and wanted to share his skills and knowledge. “I love teaching. I enjoy connecting with people and I learn so much from them; it’s really about learning together and sharing knowledge. Food is like a language with no boundaries” says Ali.
“I share with them my own industry stories and connect it back to our learnings. This is one way to help them be ready for industry, for what’s out there. I don’t sugar coat it. Our industry can be very cutthroat; but it’s also incredibly nourishing for the soul. Be humble and hardworking and you will do well in the industry.”
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