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Amrita’s journey to award winning chef

Amrita’s journey to award winning chef
Grand Pacific Hotel’s Chef De Partie Amrita Chand, 28, with her Joie De Vivre award. Photo: Jessica Savike
July 17
20:48 2017

Amrita Chand, 28, a Chef De Partie at Grand Pacific Hotel (GPH), is the second local chef to win the Joie De Vivre award.

Mrs Chand won the Joie De Vivre award af­ter graduating from the Culinary Institute Le Cordon Bleu that is in Wellington, New Zealand.

The first winner of this award from GPH was Executive Sous Chef Avikash Singh, who won last year.

Mrs Chand said: “I was out of words when they called out my name as the winner of the Joie De Vivre award. It was a moment where I had goosebumps and was very ex­cited at the same time.

“I was really thankful because going in and representing GPH at the Institute Le Cordon Bleu is in itself a great achievement and on top of it, getting an award is like ‘ice cream and jelly’.”

Background

Mrs Chand was born in Labasa and brought up in Suva. She was a former student of Nasinu Sangam Primary School and Ri­shikul Sanatan College.

She studied Trade Certificate in Cookery at the Fiji National University in 2009.

“In the beginning I wanted to be a nurse, but then I couldn’t get into it. I did go into the first round of interviews, but couldn’t make it to the sec­ond round.

“My uncle who is a prin­cipal, sat down with my mum and advised that I should become a chef and make it my career because I used to cook at home.”

She said her mother inspired her while growing up, because she would always bring home a new recipe to try.

Mrs Chand attended the Fiji Na­tional University where she studied for six months and was required to go out and do 600 hours of practical work at a hotel or re­sort in order to graduate.

Overcoming sexism

“At that time going out and looking for a hotel to do practicals was not easy for me be­cause when you give your applica­tions, the first thing the chef would see is if you’re a girl or a boy.

“They would not take any girls because they would be looked at as someone who would not have the strength to lift the heavy stuff or move around fast in the kitchen compared to a guy,” Mrs Chand said.

She further stated that she and her father spent almost two days looking for a hotel or a resort where she could do her practical work and the only response she would get was that ‘sorry we don’t have space’.

She was finally given a chance at Mango Bay in Sigatoka which meant she had to move in at her aunt in Sigatoka.

She would travel for one and a half hours each day from Sigatoka Town to Mango Bay and back in order to finish her required 600 hours.

“It would be difficult to get transport so I used to stand at the roadside waiting for any vehicle to stop as it would be difficult getting a bus to take me directly to Mango Bay,” Mrs Chand said.

Completing studies

After completing her practical work she went to Nadi to complete her Level Three studies in Cookery.

She said: “We had classes from Monday to Wednesday and on Thursdays and Fridays we used to do practical work at hotels in Nadi and that’s when I started at Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa.

“After I graduated in 2011 I was offered a job at Sofi­tel resort as a commis chef (junior chef) and I was there for three years until I got married then I moved to Suva and joined the Grand Pacific Hotel.”

Mrs Chand acknowledged the assistance and guidance she had and is re­ceiving from GPH’s general manager Peter Gee and executive chef Mohammed Arun.

Feedback: jessica.gounder@fijisun.com.fj

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