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August is here and this month we’re introducing our new in-house web developer/ digital marketer Rax Mahbub, we’re working away in the background on our website so watch this space for a new look coming soon! We’ve got a run down on our exam process as we’ve recently held exams in Auckland and have more coming up in the next week in Christchurch. Chef Andy shows us how to make a great roast chicken (one of my favourites), while Chef Paul takes a look at winter cooking options. Try out a new Croatian treat or test your kitchen equipment knowledge.

Want to Try Something New?

Joanne Hassan our Academic Student and Finance Administrator has shared this family favourite

Looking for something different to indulge in? Needing a new idea for your next “take a plate” event? One of our family favourites comes from my Croatian heritage, Kroštule (Sweet Pastry Knots).

Kroštule is a traditional pastry from Dalmatia, the coastal area of Croatia, where my grandparents immigrated to New Zealand from. Kroštule are made by deep frying dough and are a traditional Christmas sweet.

Kroštule is a very old recipe that has Latin roots: “crustulum.” In the Roman time, crustulum, also called “mini Roman pancake” was considered to be a small treat for soldiers during times of war.

They’re really easy to make and delicious to eat! Dobar tek!



Rax – Bio

We’d like to share with you our newest team member Rakib Mahbub, more commonly known as Rax. Rax has been working with us for the past 2 months and is our new front-end web developer, digital marketer and photographer.

Originally from Bangladesh, Rax came to New Zealand in 2015 and completed his post graduate degree in Business in 2017. Prior to joining International Culinary Studio, he has worked in various companies in Sales Assistant, Digital Marketing and Web Developer roles.

Welcome Rax, we’re glad to have you and look forward to seeing more of your skills at work!

Q & A With Rax

How do you like to spend your leisure time?    

I like to hang out with friends, explore the South Island with my partner, taking photographs and learning new things about digital marketing, websites and photography.

What is your go to dish to cook – what are you “expert level” at?

“Lemon Chicken roast”- braised with honey and herbs with baked vegetables on the side. Not expert, but it will do for the dinner!

Do you watch TV Cooking Programmes? If so, what is your favourite?

Hell’s Kitchen

 What foods will you never eat?

Dogs. They’re also too cute for me to eat them willingly.

Where is your favorite place to go for dinner?

My balcony when my partner cooks me a nice dinner and we sit together and chat.

Where is your favorite place to go for dinner?

It’s my Mom’s cooking. She makes amazing Bangladeshi curries and Biriyani. My partner often calls her to get the recipes so her cooking is becoming my second favourite!


Winter Cooking with Chef Paul

Winters are cold in Canterbury frosty and crisp. I remember those early days as a schoolboy walking to school in the frost, frozen puddles to slide across on the way to school.

In winter I always spend more time around the stove then at the markets but I do enjoy going to the markets any time. Not a lot really grows this time of year, but still as a chef you must remember to support the local market. The winter ingredients are still exciting lemons, root vegetables, leeks, mushrooms and nuts.

For me it is truly about the craft of cooking vegetables like celery, parsnips, leeks, pumpkin and beetroot. Using vinegars and olive oils for flavor, plus the use of your summer preserves of chutneys and pickles. My favorite dishes on cold nights would be whip potato, braised lamb Shanks with beans and meet jus or braised veal cheeks, steam cabbage with whipped kumara and lots of pan juices. Whole stuffed chicken with sage and lemon thyme, roasted root vegetables is another favourite.

I love working in a restaurant kitchen that grows its own herbs and vegetables and anything organic. I think all chefs should know how to grow herbs, there’s nothing better than fresh herbs used daily in the kitchen.

Winter is a great time for making a stocks and soups. Browned bones, herbs cooking down to produce a robust stock. These stocks are great for soups and the best time to have soup is on a cold winters’ day. Last night it was leek, spinach pumpkin and chicken soup. Oxtail soup would be one of my favorites. I find genuine pleasure in trying to perfect this simple kitchen task and the inspiration is to always produce it better, working cleaner, faster, learning how to use your knives better and safer. But trying to master my craft as a chef is something I know like, many chefs. I will always strive to achieve better.

This time of the year is great for stews and roasting vegetables glazing them in the oven getting them to the right cooking degree and colour. Winter is a time for regeneration in the garden, composting and enriching the soils for spring, keeping everything organic.
I guess success as a chef has always been about the art of science the hard work in the kitchen, how much talent do you have, how much knowledge have you gained, and how badly do you want it. I never stop learning and every day there’s something new I can add to my book of knowledge about the art of a chef. I’m always striving to be the best. I think that’s what makes this industry so exciting and fun to be in.

Why not try your pickled walnuts quince paste on a 2day sour dough with your favorite soup!

Do you know your kitchen equipment?

Identify all of these and be in to win our Junior Chef Baking Programme, winner to be announced in our September Newsletter. Email us your answers to [email protected]

Chef Andy – Roast Chicken

Who doesn’t love a roast on a chilly evening! Watch Chef Andy show you how he prepares roast chicken.

What do our exams look like?

On the 16th and 17th July we held exams for the NZQA Level 4 Certificate in Cookery in Auckland and then on the 7th and 8th August in Christchurch. All students studying this course must complete 120 industry hours as well as a theory and practical exam before receiving their qualification.

Here’s an outline of how our exams are run. On the first day the theory exam is held, this consists of a 2 hour Food Safety exam followed by the NZQA Level 4 exam – students are allowed 3 hours to complete this. Results are given almost immediately afterwards.
Later that day the preparation is done for the practical exam, The Mis-en-place includes gathering ingredients and weight out as per dish, refrigerate all dairy, meat, fish etc, prepare vegetables, getting all presentation plates and equipment ready.

Of course, on the morning of the exam, students need to be on time, correctly dressed in clean ironed chefs’ uniform, ready to go with their knives and a satisfactory work plan.

During this exam our students were given 5 hours to complete and present fish stock, a chowder entree, a main of Vietnamese Chicken Curry with Spiced Rice Pilaf and followed by a Passionfruit Souffle dessert. The aim of the final exam is to showcase a range of the chef’s skills while in a pressure environment.

Students are given the menu and what is required for the exam a few weeks in advance, giving them the opportunity to practice and ask as many questions as they like.

I’ve included some photos of the finished products – I hope it gives a little inspiration to those about to begin their culinary journey with us!