When it comes to pursuing an international career in hospitality, Dharanee Gandhiswami (DD) is 100 percent focused.
He's been in New Zealand for less than two years but already he's making his mark. DD has nearly completed his National Diploma in Hospitality Management, he's climbing the ranks at Skycity Auckland and now he has won a prestigious national award for his food and beverage skills.
The 29 year old from Madras recently competed in the New Zealand Culinary Fare, a three day hospitality competition that is said to be the largest of its kind in the world. At the end of the event he was named New Zealand Junior Food & Beverage Service Person of the Year, one of the most coveted titles in the annual competition.
"It's just magic," said DD.
"I phoned my parents back in India as soon as the results were announced. They were so happy and proud. To move here from another country and to win a national award is like a dream come true. My dad said 'I'm really proud of you my son' and that's something that I haven't heard before so it's pretty special."
Competition for the title was fierce but DD managed to stay ahead of his closest rivals, both of whom also happened to be NZMA hospitality students. He says without the support of NZMA staff the win wouldn't have been possible.
"Right from day one NZMA has given me all the equipment and training and support that I need. They prepared me thoroughly for this competition without NZMA there is no way I would have won."
The recognition will stand him in good stead career-wise, according to culinary fare organizer and Business Development Manager for Taste, Vicky Knight.
"The New Zealand Culinary Fare is an opportunity for industry professionals and students to showcase themselves against everyone in the country. It looks good on their CV and is great for prospective employers," says Knight.
And for DD that's significant he moved to New Zealand with the sole purpose of pursuing an international career in the hospitality industry. He already had nine years industry experience and a degree in hotel management under his belt, but that was all on his home turf.
"India is lovely but the hospitality industry is just waking up there. I wanted to experience the hospitality industry overseas," he says.
"I looked at a number of different countries Australia, the UK, Canada, and New Zealand and I looked into a lot of courses. I wanted to make sure I found an excellent course which would give me the best exposure to the industry and one that was internationally recognized. The qualification was the most important consideration followed by lifestyle, people, climate and so forth.
"I found out about NZMA at an education fair in India and when I looked it up on the internet I was impressed with the courses it offered and in particular the success of its students at the New Zealand Culinary Fares. I also looked at New Zealand as a country. It has got good wine, good meat products and dairy it's the perfect place for hospitality. All around the world I see Kiwis being recognized for their work in the hospitality industry."
Next year DD will complete his two-year diploma course and he is already climbing the ranks within New Zealand's largest food and beverage operator, Skycity Auckland. He started there as a cocktail server in the food and beverage gaming department and is now a VIP bartender.
By coming to New Zealand, DD has gained qualifications, experience and acclaim all of which will help him launch his career internationally.
From here on in, the world is his oyster.
Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, with 1.3 million people.