The International Culinary Studio based in Kaiapoi is confident the demand for their online education business will gain a boost in the sweeping changes to lifestyles brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Studio’s head office might be situated far from a city or centre for hospitality, in fact its sits between a funeral-director and a dog parlour on Williams Street, but as Director of Studies, Cheryl Nesbitt, says, “Online education is the way of the future and can be based anywhere.” Kaiapoi was chosen to set up the business as Christchurch City Council placed too many barriers in their way while Waimakariri District Council were more welcoming. Cheryl has an impressive background in the hospitality industry owning a Chef College in South Africa that operated six campuses in major cities. Before coming to New Zealand seven years ago, she sold the business as South Africa’s largest privately listed chef college. Launching the online business in New Zealand, the first of its kind in the world, she had to overcome opposition from the government in the form of NZQA. But with some assistance from local MP, Matt Doocey, NZQA were persuaded to see the benefits of registering the International Culinary Studio as an education provider and were approved for government funding. “Approval for funding from the Tertiary Education Commission enables us to offer educational opportunities to a wider range of students and they are eligible for the Government’s Fees Free scheme or a student loan. “Not everyone can afford to give up their job to attend a tertiary course and with online education students can keep their current job and learn from home, instead of becoming a full-time student. “Working as an apprentice is another common path to working in our industry but it means taking a trainee salary whereas while using our online system, a good paying job can be held at the same time as studying. “We’ve also opened up another market of students, those who have always wanted to have a hospitality career and are currently working in other fields or those working in it for years who wish to gain better qualifications. The school offers a range of international qualifications too and out of their 350 students, 35 are undertaking the New Zealand qualifications. Cheryl’s business partner, Chef Andy Cordier, has a wealth of experience in the industry including head chef to a German diplomat, Group Executive Chef for a South African company catering for Nelson Mandela through some very turbulent times, and he has also represented South Africa as a Chef on the National Team, was a Master Chef judge and headed up a National Sausage Making Competition. International Culinary Studio has recently been recognised by the prestigious World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WORLDCHEFS), for its online training programmes, joining over 100 recognised establishments around the world which consistently deliver quality culinary education.