The Culinary Collective provides hundreds of meals for those in need

A team of 20 put their industry-ready skills to the test preparing more than 400 meals.

A team of generous students and a dedicated tutor from The Culinary Collective and NZMA Auckland Central campuses are providing frozen meals to those in need through a partnership with The Upper Room church.

More than 20 students sacrificed a Saturday in early May to prepare just over 400 meals which were then passed on to The Upper Room team.

The meals were then stored in a freezer ready to be distributed to families and individuals over the coming winter months.

Tutor Jamie Murray emphasised the day served not only as an opportunity for students to give back, but also as a chance for them to gain valuable experience in the kitchen.

“Our students took on the responsibility of cooking a total of 175 chicken meals, 175 beef meals and 100 vegetarian meals. It allows for students to engage in a project they can organise themselves, providing valuable team building, leadership, and work experiences.”

The group’s efforts have already been recognised in a New Zealand Herald article for their part in helping to support a pair of parents with a premature newborn.

Hamilton couple Jaime Beaumont and Hayes Croucher tragically lost one of their premature twins, while the other survived. They have been in and out of Waikato Hospital’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit, going through the unimaginable – but The Upper Room was able to provide frozen meals prepared by The Culinary Collective to ensure they had one less thing to worry about. You can read more about their story here.

The Culinary Collective Level 4 and 5 cookery students have been brimming with pride over the event.

Tharushi Hewa Kankanange found the experience to be grounding; “cooking for others is a form of altruism which can make people feel happy and connected.”

Quinn McAlister considered it a great way to help others while also putting industry-ready skills to the test; “It was a nice way to give to those in need while learning about the dynamics of working within a team environment in a kitchen.”

For their tutor Jamie, witnessing his students refine their abilities was truly rewarding; “Preparing 15 kilograms of onions for example gives students plenty of practice which junior chefs require to refine their overall knife skills and techniques.”