Meet The Team

The Team

Cheryl Nesbitt

Cheryl Nesbitt

Director of Studies

Cheryl is our Director of Studies at International Culinary Studio. Her life story is the stuff of legends and not only is she a Culinary Guru in her own right, she is an award-winning Business Woman and our dynamic leader at ICS.

Cheryl grew up in rural sugar cane country in KwaZulu Natal, and as a child already fluent in English, Zulu and German, she had big dreams of becoming a teacher. But life had other plans for her….

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As fate would have it, a brand new hotel went up in their town and Cheryl started working there as a teenager. And almost immediately, her love for the hospitality was born. After qualifying as a Hotel Manager at the age of 21, she started her own highly successful Catering and Events company which she sold at 28 years old.

For the next few years, Cheryl worked at a number of different colleges in various roles and gained an enormous amount of experience in the business of education. In 2003 Cheryl opened a hugely successful Chef College in South Africa. Staring out with just 4 students enrolling in it’s first year, it was sold to a listed company 13 years later with over 1000 annual enrolments and 6 campuses country wide.

What started out as an industry first is now a globally respected educational institution, with an abundance of Culinary success stories coming from their college kitchens.

Cheryl relocated to New Zealand in 2013 with her family, and after extensive research and planning, the International Culinary Studio was born. A cutting edge educational facility – another industry first – that offers online culinary qualifications and accreditations for everyone from Home School students to Industry Professionals around the world.

A true labour of love from her two biggest passions – Education and All things Culinary.

Out of the office Cheryl is Mom to Erin and Niall and furbaby Toffee.

Most likely to be seen transforming an everyday event into an extraordinary, high tea culinary extravaganza, while the rest of us rocked up with packets of biscuits and paper napkins. And planning what she will plant next in her kitchen garden.

Connect With Cheryl


Chef Andy Cordier

Chef Andy Cordier

Executive Group Chef

Andy is our Group Executive Chef at International Culinary Studio.His phenomenal journey as an Executive Chef, Master Chef Judge, Personal International Diplomat Chef, Caterer to Nelson Mandela and even a role running a massive Casino Culinary operation – all from humble beginnings as a 15 year old waiter in a family restaurant, are the stuff dreams are made of and are a testament to the endless possibilities available to qualified Culinary professionals.
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Andy grew up in a home surrounded by food and friends, with a Mother who was a very keen cook and their home was a hive of activity. Social gatherings and delicious food was perpetually in abundance, but some of the most evocative memories that started Andy on his Culinary journey, came from their Italian family friends. The Italian tradition of filling the kitchen with absolutely everyone, while preparing meals with love and the freshest of ingredients and always eating together, ignited Andy’s fascination with food. And although he didn’t know it yet, his journey as a Chef had already begun.

Working as a waiter in a family restaurant at 15, also afforded him the opportunity to be trained in all aspects of the kitchen. And he learnt about everything from cold kitchen culinary to the butchery, desserts and the grill. Just two years later Andy started his military service and because of his background in the kitchen was immediately put in charge of the catering division. At 17 he was managing a team of Chefs and running the entire Food and Beverage operation on the border during the Angolan War. When the completed his service at 19, with a level of experience that many will never have had in their lifetime, Andy entered the Hospitality Industry through a large hotel chain and completed his 3 year apprenticeship programme in Professional Cookery in just two years. It comes as no surprise that he was named Trainee of the Year in both of those years.

After just one year formal industry experience, Andy was offered a coveted industry role – Head Chef to the Diplomat in Germany so he packed his bags and set off on a life changing year touring the world while cooking for the family. “It was the most incredible experience learning the different European Culinary styles and discovering how to prepare meals that were pleasing to the International Diplomatic palate. “

The next culinary adventure was just around the corner and Andy joined a Corporate Catering Company in South Africa as Group Executive Chef. The catering company that also happened to be the preferred service provider for Nelson Mandela. And he catered for some of the most pinnacle moments in history – Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, his birthday bash that followed and then sadly, also his Presidential Funeral a few years later on.

A Casino moment came next with Andy running a massive Casino operation with a 5 Star Hotel. He managed 186 Chefs and 6 Executive Sous Chefs in his team. And went on to open a restaurant chain as well as a role as Commercial Manager for a large fruit and jam International Brand, where he got a chance to gain experience from the other side of the kitchen. And gained valuable food design, product development, marketing and business skills.

His accolades and experience include starting a high-end Catering and Events company which ran large functions of up to 500 people per seating, with multiple events on the same day. As well as managing and operating one of the world’s biggest cycling events, International Cricket Events as well as being the Culinary Service provider for the Opening of Parliament in South Africa.

During Andy’s career, he has also represented South Africa as a Chef on the National Team, was a Master Chef judge and headed up a National Sausage Making Competition. His reputation as a sought- after judge in many Culinary Skills events continues to keep in high demand today.

“Living in New Zealand, and especially Christchurch, with the rebuild, is a wonderful experience, and I am very excited to be involved since the inception of International Culinary Studio.

I feel that I have so much experience to share, and my love of education will always be a passion of mine. “

Chef Andy’s Motto “Every dish that leaves the kitchen must have your unique signature on it!”

Out of the office Andy is an avid Mountain Bike enthusiast, Super Hero Dad to 4 children and slave to Toffee, his gorgeous dog.

Most likely to be seen: Whipping up Michelin Star worthy snacks in the ICS kitchen.

Connect with Chef Andy


Ingrid Ovenstone

Ingrid Ovenstone

Operations Manager

Ingrid is our Operations Manager at International Culinary Studio (ICS). Born in South Africa, she soon moved to Zimbabwe and as an adult to the UK, where she has spent most of her professional life.

Ingrid brings with her more than 21 years of experience, as a versatile business professional, who has worked on many projects on a global level.

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She has gained a lot of exposure working in international markets, and demonstrating expertise in helping businesses to make the right decisions at the right time. After starting a few businesses, successfully growing them and selling them, Ingrid moved onto starting her own business coaching enterprise. 

One of Ingrid’s passions is seeing women entrepreneurs empowered and she is coming alongside Cheryl Nesbitt, our Director of Studies, to increase the capacity of ICS. She will help spearhead the continued growth of ICS as a world leader in culinary qualifications globally. 

Ingrid has a love for Giraffes, and actively supports giraffe foundations globally to help get the graceful giraffes off the endangered list.  Outside of International Culinary Studio, you will find Ingrid spending time with her husband of the past 32 years, Wayne, and engaging with her two children, Byron and Amy. Family is the most important thing to her, as such, we welcome her into our ICS family.

David Lemon

David Lemon

Academic and Development Manager

David is the Academic and Development Manager at International Culinary Studio. A born a bred North Cantabrian, from a local farming family and whom still lives and works in Canterbury.

A Rangiora High graduate at 15 years of age, David started his career with a collection of various jobs before heading to the University of Canterbury as a mature student and graduating with a Ph.D., majoring in Sociology.

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His extensive career has seen him in the PTE sector for over 15 years, in roles including Business Tutor, Academic Manager and Director of Studies.

His work so far has taken him into exciting sectors such as Travel and Tourism, Hospitality, IT and Business Management at Diploma Level.

David has a keen interest in online education, already experiencing the concept in the sector as exciting and positive, before coming on board to International Culinary Studio. As a Father to 4 adult children, David has seen first-hand how quickly the education sector is transforming and continues to grow in leaps and bounds in the online field.

Out of the office David and his wife Saori, who is originally from Japan, are keen outdoor enthusiasts and love travelling and exploring New Zealand. On weekends you will find them enjoying forest walks and visiting local cafes, always on the hunt for a new menu and the best coffee in NZ.

David and Saori are also pet-parents to dogs Milo and Mocha and cat Latte.

Bookworm David is also a keen connoisseur of good reads. With a particular love for both fiction and non-fiction, Victorian murder mysteries and trials.

Cheryl Radford

Cheryl Radford

Customer Relationship Officer

Cheryl is our Customer Relationship Manager at International Culinary Studio. With years of experience in sales and customer service, Cheryl most enjoys helping students find the best course fit for them to take on their culinary dreams.

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A Canterbury local with a husband and two high school boys, most of her spare time is spent on a sport’s side line, with a good book or planning her next overseas trip.

Chef Ken

Chef Ken

Chef Assessor

Ken Thompson has been a Chef for the past 43 years. He brings a wealth of experience that our students will most certainly benefit from. 

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A few highlights of Ken’s career:

Worked in a Michelin Star Restaurant in London, UK.

Has worked as a chef globally across Europe, The Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

A Level 6 Competition Judge.

Taught for over 17 years in colleges across the countries.

Coached many winning student competition teams.

Won Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals at a number of competitions globally himself.

Catered in a team of chefs for a function for Princess Anne.

Life Member of the New Zealand Chefs Association.

Ken has a passion for the youth entering into the culinary world and has made an impact on so many culinary professionals’ lives. We are excited for him to join us and to share the amazing culinary knowledge he has.

Connect with Ken



Chef Helen

Chef Helen

Chef Instructor & Assessor

Chef Helen is one of our Chef Instructors and an Assessor at International Culinary Studio.

Her passion for education and the hospitality industry has meant she has a combined experience of over 20 years in the industry.

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She is now developing her passion for online education and continuing to support learners in this dynamic and evolving culinary education era.

Helen is a born and bred Kiwi having grown up in Manawatu, although she studied in Canterbury, she currently resides close to her home town where she supports her husband and raises her brood of children along with her cat, Sir Carter. On weekends she can be found in her kitchen, baking for events and small businesses, sometimes her lucky children get to taste her amazing baking and when she is not in the kitchen, her creativity takes her into her garden.

Helen is herself a qualified City & Guilds Chef, she has the NZQA Level 5 equivalent, in Culinary and also Level 4 in Adult Education. She has a level 5 In Adult Numeracy and Literacy Education. She is also a qualified Assessor and soon to start a Level 7 in Culinary Arts.

Her work experience has seen her work in a range of Culinary Establishments which include, Hotels, Restaurants, Cafes, Bakery and Catering Companies. She has worked hard to see her Maori and Pacifica students excel in this field.

Joanne Hassan

Joanne Hassan

Academic Student & Finance Administrator

Joanne is our wonderful Student Administrator & Finance Administrator. She assists and supports all of our students through the enrolment process right through to graduation. 

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Along with the rest of the team she ensures that all of ours students have a positive and efficient experience. Joanne is also our finance guru.

Being a descendant of Croatian immigrants I have inherited their love of good food and great wine! I always enjoy heading out for a good meal. I also love spending time with my husband and three children, going to shows, and exploring our beautiful country.

The Academic Board

Left to right: Cheryl Nesbitt, Kirsty Willis, Andy Cordier, David Lemon

The International Culinary Studio Academic Board provides academic leadership, acts with integrity and professionalism, upholds the highest ethical and academic standards, promotes diversity in the interests of fairness and of good governance, and is committed to transparency, accountability and responsible stewardship of the Companies reputation!