Follow your passion for the culinary arts in New Zealand’s natural paradise. Learn to cook in time with the landscape and seasons.

Study cookery at Central and immerse yourself in our ‘paddock to plate’ approach. We focus on using regional produce to build a connection between the source of our food and the dinner table. We access regional ingredients like saffron, olives and clams, as well as wild game such as rabbits and ducks. We source grapes, plants and herbs from our kitchen garden, and even produce our own wine. There is also a wide range of opportunities for foraging in the local area.

But the experience doesn’t end there. The Central Otago region offers a wealth of opportunities in the hospitality sector both during and after your studies.

Learn here, cook here – love it here!

New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 3)

  • Dunedin or Central Otago
  • One semester full-time (Dunedin); One day per week for one year (Central Otago)
  • Level 3
  • Starts February and July (Dunedin); February (Central)
  • Apply by 30 November and 30 April. Late applications will be accepted based on availability of places.

Learn essential food preparation and cookery techniques and gain valuable commercial and kitchen experience in our training restaurant during this hands-on programme.

New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4)

  • Dunedin or Central Otago
  • One year full-time
  • Level 4
  • Starts February (Dunedin); February and July (Central Otago)
  • Apply by 30 November (for Dunedin - late applications will be accepted based on availability of places); 15 January or 8 June (for Central Otago)

Begin your journey from cook to chef in this programme available at both our Dunedin and Central Otago campuses. Involving lots of hands-on, practical cooking in our training kitchens, and a work experience opportunity, this qualification will expand the skills you have developed in a Level 3 cookery programme.

New Zealand Diploma in Cookery (Advanced) (Level 5) (Cookery)

  • Central Otago
  • One year full-time
  • Level 5
  • Starts February
  • Apply now

This practical qualification includes lots of hands-on cooking in our training kitchens and a work placement in a local business. You will develop a range of cookery, hospitality management, communication, leadership and critical thinking skills, and benefit from the chance to source your ingredients straight from the campus nursery, modern glasshouses and vineyard.

Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 - LCQ Training Seminar (Central Otago)

  • Central Otago
  • One day (8.30am-5.00pm)
  • Starts Tuesday, 26 November 2019
  • Apply ten days before each start date

This course provides comprehensive training for people who are preparing for a Duty Manager position in a licensed premise and intend to apply for their Manager’s Certificate.

Barista skills short course

  • Central Otago
  • Two days, 9.00am-4.00pm
  • Starts Thursday 31 October and Thursday 7 November
  • Apply anytime

Want to gain recognition of your barista skills? This two day course (held on two Thursdays) offers you the chance to gain a comprehensive knowledge of barista skills.

Patisserie short course

  • Central Otago
  • Five weeks (Thursdays, 6.00pm-9.00pm)
  • Starts to be confirmed for 2020
  • Apply anytime

Have a passion for pastry? Learn the art of simple French pastries

Food Safety: Unit 167

  • Dunedin or Central Otago
  • One day per unit
  • Starts Dunedin - 17 October 2019; Central Otago - 14 November 2019
  • Apply anytime

Working with food? This unit standard is a legal requirement in some workplaces and is recommended for ALL people working, or preparing to work, in a food business. This course is also run as a STAR course for secondary school students.

Coffee-making short course

  • Central Otago
  • One day, 9.00am-4.00pm
  • Starts - please enquire
  • Apply anytime

Want to learn the art of coffee-making? This one day course will teach you how to make a great cup of coffee!


Great tastes

Flavia Kupka was already working as a chef when she enrolled in Central’s Professional Cookery programme, and her career has flourished since she graduated.

Having now rapidly progressed through the cheffing roles to become a chef de partie in the sauté section of the up-market restaurant Botswana Butchery in Queenstown, Flavia says she can “absolutely guarantee” the course helped her to become a better chef.

“I was really impressed with all the facilities, the size of the kitchen, the amount of machines for each student and the way the chefs conducted the classes.” Learning from guest chefs and taking part in cooking competitions helped broaden her knowledge of food and ability to cook under pressure.

She also enjoyed how Central’s learning space extended into Otago’s heartland. Among the many memorable experiences were visiting local restaurants, picking grapes and olives, plucking ducks and wine-tasting. Working in a busy restaurant and studying sometimes required a bit of juggling but Flavia says the challenge was well worthwhile. “Just go for it. It is one of the best investments you can do for your career.”

Cooking for Gold

Winning the supreme award at the annual Toque d’Or competition was the ultimate recognition for all the hard work three Central students invested in their 2014 Cookery programmes. Ashleigh Kerr, Emma Evans and Erin Fenemor were an invincible team, wowing the judges – and themselves – with their culinary achievements.

“It was hands-down the most proud I have ever been in myself and in my team. We put so much time and energy into this competition and to come away as the supreme winners was unbelievable,” says Emma.

Like her other two team-mates Erin loved how learning at Central involved the “gate to plate” philosophy and perhaps it was this style of learning that gave them the edge over their rivals.

“That we get to cook locally grown or sourced food, I think that is just awesome!” she says.

Ashleigh Kerr, Emma Evans and Erin Fenemor
Toque d’Or 2014 supreme winners

Nestlé Toque d’Or 2015 – the Judges’ Views

Utilising a top quality cut of sirloin beef, along with a secondary cut of ox tail enabled the competitors to really stimulate their creative juices and produce some of the most appreciative dishes ever seen in the 25 years of Nestlé Toque d’Or.

Sponsored by Moffat, the Innovation Award challenges students to ‘think outside the square’ and demonstrate new ways of using Nestlé Professional products across the menus that they create.

“Nestlé Toque d’Or has long been a playing field for encouraging young culinary stars to be innovative, in terms of their use of lead sponsor Nestlé Professional’s products. 2015 was no exception, with the Central Campus Otago Polytechnic team proving to be the standout winner.

“The rub of NESTLÉ HIGHLANDER Sweetened Condensed Milk along with MAGGI Onion Bouillon not only enhanced the flavour of the cooked beef but also assisted with caramelising the outside of the cut during the cooking process. Such a clever approach proved to be not only innovative but also very useful in delivering the ultimate dining experience when the beef was cooked and served.”

Read the full article here.

Kayla Green has created a career pathway that has been surprising even to herself!

Kayla was a student at Cromwell College, and her interest in Home Economics and desserts led her to take up the opportunity to join the Otago Central Tertiary College for her last two years of school. During this time she not only completed years 12 and 13 she also successfully completed the National Certificate in Cookery, Level 2 and 3.

After finishing year 13, Kayla enrolled for the New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4) and is thoroughly enjoying her full time study experience, “The classes are small enough that you get to know the other students well, and you get lots of hands on experience and one on one time with the lecturers.”

Kayla has not only achieved more than many in the last few years, but she also won Silver at the national Toque D’or competition for her restaurant service. 

Studying at Central has opened so many doors for me and has given me the most amazing experiences. I am also lucky that I can still live at home and stay in this amazing region. I’m definitely going to stay on and do the Level 5 Diploma in cookery next year, who knows where it will take me.

Emma Waser was a student at Mount Aspiring College in Wanaka when she made the decision to study cookery at Otago Polytechnic's Central campus.

As a keen baker, Emma knew she needed to learn the basics and broaden her cookery skills to be able to make a career out of it. She did her research and found the Cookery programme at Central offered exactly what she wanted. “It was the hands-on learning that really appealed to me”, she said. “Having lots of time in the kitchen is really important, and the programme has really lived up to my expectations and more”.

Not only has Emma learnt a broad range of skills that will set her up well for a career in cookery, but she has also maximised the amazing opportunities that are often offered to the students. Emma was a member of the Central team who competed this year at the Nestlé Toque d’or competition and was also selected to represent New Zealand at the New Zealand – Vietnam culinary collaboration.  Emma was part of the winning team and said she couldn’t have done it without the help she received from her cookery tutors. “It was such a fantastic opportunity, and I really wanted to go into it as prepared as I could be. My tutors were fantastic, helping me practice and prepare for the competition ahead.  The whole NZ – Vietnam experience was awesome, it was very special to be able to cook using different ingredients, and fantastic experiencing a different culture”.

Emma is in her second year of cookery at Otago Polytechnic’s Central campus and is looking forward to what the future holds.  “Cookery opens up so many doors and there are plenty of opportunities here and overseas that are out there just waiting for me”.