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History of NZ Chefs

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The New Zealand Chefs Association Inc.

Historical Portrait

The first meetings held in New Zealand to discuss the formation of an Association to
which only fully qualified chefs could gain admittance were held in Auckland on the 25
July and in Christchurch on the 28 August 1957. Both of these meetings, and one held
shortly afterwards in Wellington were held on the initiative of Mr. Fred Young, National
Secretary of the Hotel & Restaurant Employees’ Federation, and his brother in law, Fred
Taylor, Chef at the Great Northern. Syd Young, Central Hotel; Ernie Reid, Trans Tasman;
both later Presidents of the Association, and four other chefs were present at that first
meeting in Auckland. In Christchurch, Lou Neilson, Neil Witteman and Bill Philpot; in
Dunedin .George L’Homme and Bill Cook, and in Wellington, Bert Cousins, Jack Mulvey
and Mal Anderson were active members of the Association in those early years with Bert
Cousins of the St George being elected first National President. And of course, in
Rotorua, the least forgettable of the all, Bill Elliott of Brents, for many years Chef of the
best known of New Zealand Hotels. These then were the Founders, what have been their

With the assistance of men like George Armstrong as National Secretary and Les Short
the Canterbury Branch Secretary, they registered as an incorporated Society, the New
Zealand Chefs’ Academy with membership of twenty-seven. They have seen this grow
into the New Zealand Master Chefs’ Association with a membership approaching two
hundred. When the Association was registered, it gave as its principles objects:-

1) Generally to encourage and foster interest in the culinary arts and sciences, and to
function as a Master Chefs’ Association, i.e. as spokesman on all matters relating to
their profession including the vocational, educational training of young people in the
culinary work.

2) To attain the aforesaid objectives by support and/or promotion of lectures,
competitions and catering exhibitions throughout New Zealand, and to co-operate with
kindred organisations to such ends.

In 1960, in association with the New Zealand Hotel Association, it established the first
training scheme for cooks. Many of the products of the scheme now hold Executive
Chefs’ positions both here and overseas. However recognising the limitations of the
scheme, members pressed for the establishment of full-time Schools of Cookery so that
the extent of cooks’ training could be measured by examinations and rewarded by
recognized certificates. Starting with Auckland in 1971, we now have six Schools where
training in the art and science of cooking is provided. This Association does not claim all
the credit for this progress, because other far-sighted individuals have made their
contribution but we have been involved throughout.

In the years following the formation of the Association a considerable number of chefs
who had received their training in Europe came and settled in New Zealand and the
Association grew slowly. With this growth came changes, from a group of hotel employees
to today’s Association, with members holding Executive positions throughout the
industry, owning and operating their own restaurants and, of course, being found in such
diverse places as Educational Institutions, Training Boards and Trade Unions, These
Chefs are now the leaders of the Association who in due time will hand the reins of office
to some of the young men and woman who they have trained and they will inherit an
Association which has been accepted into the World Association of Cook Societies and is
the recognized as the voice of Chefs in New Zealand.

Copied 2007, the original was not dated.
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