Chef eager to feed young minds

SASHA BORISSENKO
Last updated 13:00 17/01/2014
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MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

NEW ROLE: Chef Luke Macann is moving to Marlborough to be the new food technology and hospitality teacher at Queen Charlotte College.

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Nelson chef Luke Macann has decided to give working at restaurants the chop in favour of the classroom.

He has been in the food industry for more than 22 years but has decided to take up a position as the new food technology and hospitality teacher at Queen Charlotte College in Picton at the end of the month.

It has always been about food and learning for Mr Macann, who stumbled into the industry after he realised his love of food could be a job at a young age.

"I was lucky that I knew what I was going to do for the majority of my life."

He worked at Nelson's Boat Shed Cafe from 1994 for nine years and it was a very humbling experience, he said.

"The restaurant grew and I grew with it, I suppose."

He then went on to open the successful Bay House on the West Coast for three years before moving to San Francisco to be a private chef for the rich and famous who "had forgotten how to cook".

He found the lifestyle easier than restaurant work in San Francisco, he said.

There was nothing like the pressure of being in a restaurant, he said.

He returned to New Zealand three years ago and took up further tertiary education with the University of Waikato.

It was not that he had lost his drive for restaurant work but that he wanted to do something that made sense, he said.

"Teaching has always been at the back of my mind. There are a great deal of systems that have to be taught in the industry - portion control, cleanliness, safety, what works with what.

"I am learning all the time, it is just a natural part of the job.

"It feels like the right thing to do because I have been doing this for 22 years and I have the skill and drive to transfer my knowledge."

He felt it was important to step out of his comfort zone to do something different.

"I am the first to confess I am not a scholar or the world's greatest chef but I enjoy what I do and I know I will be a great teacher."

He was looking forward to being a mentor and taking children under his metaphoric wing, he said.

"Cooking for me starts with a chopping board, a knife and a bit of understanding."

Food had never been so trendy or present or in vogue but people still needed to learn the fundamentals.

While he did not plan to become an educational maverick, he wished to empower students and get them conscious and enthused by what they ate.

At the end of the day, there was no place more comforting than coming home to a cooking-filled kitchen, he said.

Food was about community, love, sharing knowledge and magic, he said.

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