Te Whaiora Chapman and Tumanako Ward

Te Whaiora Chapman and Tumanako Ward

Culinary Grads Learning From the Best

Te Whaiora Chapman and Tumanako Ward have swapped Whakatāne for Tokyo.

The brothers were both studying Culinary Arts Level 5 at Toi Ohomai | Te Pūkenga when they were given the chance to learn from a top chef based in Tokyo and jumped at the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

Te Whaiora and Tumanako are now working in the kitchen at popular eatery Rangitoto Tokyo under Executive Chef Trevor Blyth. 

The initiative was borne out of a family friendship between Toi Ohomai Tourism and Hospitality Tutor Kylee New and award-winning New Zealand sommelier Wayne Shennen. 

Kylee and Wayne have known each other since childhood, and although Wayne’s career has taken him around the world, they have stayed in touch. Wayne is a Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers, holds the Advanced Level of Certified Sake Professionals and owns Rangitoto Tokyo – a New Zealand Wine and Craft Sake Bar situated in the Yushima district of Tokyo.

Knowing Kylee worked in education, he reached out asking if she knew of any students keen to take on an internship in the Rangitoto Tokyo kitchen. 

“This was an opportunity that I became very excited about,” Kylee says.

She reached out to Culinary Arts tutor Shane Yardley and presented the opportunity to his class, which included Te Whaiora and Tumanako.

Te Whaiora and Tumanako finished their course last year and have been working in Tokyo since February. The move was a huge change for them considering they have never been outside of the North Island. 

They are both loving the experience so far and enjoying the challenges they face daily; the cultural differences have also added a whole new dimension to their experience.

“On our first day in the kitchen, witnessing a high-level, Michelin star chef in action was such a huge leap in experience and skill but was so interesting to watch. This opportunity has been very interesting to be able to work alongside him and learn from him and his experiences,” Te Whaiora says. 

Tumanako says they have encountered a few slip-ups in the kitchen, but the experience has been a huge learning curve. 

“We had just finished our course and instantly jumped to a high-level kitchen with barely any experience in a kitchen as a job,” he says. 

Kylee and the Culinary Arts team are hugely proud of Te Whaiora and Tumanako and look forward to hearing updates from them over the course of the year, they will be spending in Tokyo. 

Wayne says he wants to enable more opportunities for up-and-coming chefs.

“We are not a big operation at the moment, but we do have some big plans,” he says.

“I’m hoping to be able to do some kind of scholarship where we can help get some young chefs exposure to the high-end international hospitality scene and eventually bring it back to NZ. 

“I’m hoping to be able to have an exchange programme eventually but to start it’s going to take someone who wants to, who are a bit driven to get over on their own steam but with a guaranteed job opportunity to hit the ground running.”