The talented 20 year old has just returned from Valladolid, where she completed a three month internship at renowned La Botica restaurant as part of her Ignite Colleges Level 4 certificate studies. Described as “an experience of a lifetime” Bettina says the opportunity provided everything she’d hoped for, and more.
“The chance to work at La Botica under Chef Miguel Angel de Guzman was just amazing. He taught me so much. I learnt how to run the kitchen on my own and how to make all the dishes at La Botica,” says Bettina, who was primarily working in the cold larder section creating canapes, appetizers and desserts.
“I learnt so much about Spanish cuisine and as well as working in the restaurant kitchen, my Head Chef took me out on catering jobs, to events like birthdays and weddings.”
Trying different tapas and eating in “unforgettable” upmarket 1 and 2 Michelin star restaurants have created memories that will last a lifetime.
“This experience will be beneficial and serve as a reference guide for me for many years to come. I have gained so much confidence and have discovered that I can do anything so long as I believe in myself.”
As well as immersing herself in Spanish cuisine, Bettina had plenty of opportunities to soak up the local culture.
“I shared accommodation with other interns from all over the world, and on our days off we’d go exploring. I especially loved Segovia, for all its incredible history. Barcelona was amazing too.”
Of course, visiting a foreign country for the first time doesn’t come without its challenges.
“I wish I’d learned a bit of Spanish before I went because it was quite difficult communicating. Luckily some of the chefs at my restaurant spoke and understood a bit of English, and everyone was so nice.”
The chance to intern in Spain has been dream come true for Bettina, who is originally from the Philippines, but moved to Auckland seven years ago.
“I received the scholarship to study at Ignite when I was a student at Southern Cross Campus, and it has opened up a whole new world. I’ve loved cooking since I was a child, so I’m finally doing what I’m passionate about.”
She’s also clearly doing what she’s good at. Within a few short weeks of returning from Spain Bettina was promoted to chef de partie at Auckland Airport’s Koru lounge, where she has been working throughout her Ignite studies. It’s provided a great opportunity to put into practice all she learns in class each day and will prove even more valuable next year when she begins studying for her diploma.
Bettina’s advice to other aspiring young chefs?
“Be brave and don’t be scared to ask questions. Stay positive and work hard. Nothing is impossible!”