49 days ago

25 years evolves into Remote Covid learning

New Zealand School of Food & Wine

We were lucky!

Over the weekend of 14/15 March, we celebrated our 25th Anniversary at NZSFW and 10 days later, New Zealand ground to a halt in the Covid19 Lockdown.

And while our day to day life has dramatically changed, looking at all these photos gives me a lot of pleasure and especially to be able to share in the achievements of our current students and graduates. The highlight has to be the magnificent dinner; an inspired menu created by our gifted chef, Finn Gybel and prepared under his watchful eye by the cookery students.

Fortuitously, the lamb arrived fresh from Pigeon Bay via Harris Meats in North Canterbury and after a number of dramas leaving us worried that it would in time. Finn's dish, where he wrapped the lamb in crepinette, to hold it together while cooking, was certainly a new technique that we had not used in the past.

It was a thrill to have veteran broadcaster, Carol Hirschfeld as MC for the dinner and lend her distinctive and thoughtful commentary to our story. Carol asked me who she could "interview" during the dinner. Victoria Biddick, our first enrolled student from 1995, Oliver Hay and Joelle Thomson all shared their unique perspective on their association with the school.

There is certainly some irony in the fact that as we were celebrating these 25 years, another significant challenge was about to explode. Drawing on my earthquake experience, where we relocated our students to my second business at the Duvauchelle Store and Café, I knew that we had to find a way to keep going.

As the Covid19 crisis escalated, I discussed with our tutors how we could teach the programmes online and with the cookery students cooking in their own kitchens at home. Again, I was fortunate that my son Oliver, computer systems engineer, and recently returned from his super yacht chef sojourn, decided that he wanted to work full-time at NZSFW. Oli then set about finding the best platform for the tutors to stream their classes live and to administer the programmes. We have used Google Classroom and the Hangouts conferencing software to do this and it's working well.

By Friday 20 March, we had amended our cookery timetables to focus on baking, pasta and dishes that were easier to prepare at home. The students then went home with a 5kg bag of flour, 2 kg sugar, 1kg butter, 12 eggs and other ingredients. We trialled the video streaming from NZSFW while we could and then following the lockdown, the tutors now continue from their homes. The logistics are much easier for Franck with his hospitality students!

For the cookery students, the model is they watch the demonstrations at home and later upload photographs of their cooking. It's not ideal, as the tutor cannot taste their food and sometimes the livestream is pixellated or cuts out but it's better that doing nothing. Plus, everyone gets to chat and socialise from the safety of their bubble. And with supermarkets open, we can continue to buy supplies. View Foundation cooking shots here. And Advanced Cooking here.

Stay safe and have fun,
Celia Hay

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