Bringing European Flavour to Manukau’s Newest Cookery School

August 31 2017 - Howick and Pakuranga Times

A 29-course dinner is probably more than most could stomach. But for diehard foodies, the opportunity to dine at Disfrutar, one of the world’s top restaurants, is well worth making an exception for.

Renown for serving the ultimate degustation feasts, Disfrutar is the brainchild of chefs from the globally acclaimed elBuili, and since opening its doors in 2014 has been showered with accolades, from Michelin Stars to Repsol Suns to Restaurant of the Year titles.

Farm Cove local Chef Jasbir Kaur has just returned from a three-and-a-half-month stint in the Disfrutar kitchens, where she worked with the best chefs on the planet, and discovered first hand why this Barcelona restaurant is booked out a year ahead.

“Every top chef in the world has worked at Disfrutar or ElBuli at some point in their careers, so it has always been a dream of mine,” says Jasbir, who has 20 years of cheffing experience under her belt, both here and in the USA.

“It was a very intense experience – we worked 16 hour days, and everyone only spoke Catalan, so I had to learn the language quick! Each of the 29 dishes served had so many different elements, and in some cases, up to ten chefs were needed just to put one plate together.”

Amongst Jasbir’s favourites were the gazpacho sandwich, olives with mandarin essence, and a dessert which featured pistachios 32 different ways.

“Every plate at Disfrutar is big on drama, and taps into all the senses. For example, before eating one of the desserts, diners have to wash their hands in whiskey!”

Jasbir will now pass on some of Disfrutar’s creative culinary concepts to wannabe chefs in Manukau, in her new role as General Manager of tertiary education provider Ignite Colleges. Currently Ignite delivers hospitality training along with a range of other employment-focussed programmes, and $1.5 million is currently being invested into the campus to set up a state-of-the-art cookery school which opens in October. From its cutting edge commercial training kitchens, Ignite Colleges will dish up an exciting and unique range of culinary arts programmes, specifically designed by Jasbir. Courses will include some of the revolutionary ideas she picked up during her time at Disfrutar.

“I want to bring about change in culinary arts in New Zealand, and add some real flair to cookery training.”

It’s a task she’s well qualified for, having previously opened two successful cooking schools. She’s also been a regular chef on TV, has presented radio shows both here and overseas, and for the past eight years she has judged New Zealand’s top national culinary arts competitions.

“I want to help New Zealand become more of a culinary destination, by training chefs who will push boundaries, innovate and inspire. By taking up the reins at Ignite Colleges, I have the opportunity to do exactly that, in the very heart of Manukau.”


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