For the first time a New Zealander has won the Medal for Excellence in Culinary Arts from City and Guilds London, and that New Zealander is from AUT.
Senior lecturer Alan Brown from the AUT School of Hospitality and Tourism won the medal earlier this year after being nominated by colleagues.
The Medal of Excellence is awarded to lecturers who demonstrate exceptional talent and dedication to teaching.
Alan says he had no idea about the nomination and was thrilled when he heard he had won, especially considering this is an international honour.
His career started at AUT (then ATI) where he studied culinary arts, after which he moved to the UK to continue studying and working.
During an OE lasting 18 years, Alan worked in hotels, a Michelin star restaurant and corporate fine dining.
At The Ritz Hotel in London, Alan started a step above an apprentice working his way up to Chef de Poissonier, running a team of six.
After his time at The Ritz, Brown worked as Head Chef at the Milton Sandford Restaurant earning a Michelin star.
His time at AUT
He found his way into teaching by accident upon his return to New Zealand while catching up with Ted Bryant, then Head of the School of Hotel and Restaurant Studies at ATI.
“I believe in fate and when he and I were talking it came up that the interviews for production kitchen chefs were the next day.”
He has been at AUT ever since, celebrating 20 years this year.
“The students are the best part,” he says. “They keep you young and honest and they test you.”
These students genuinely appreciate Alan too, with many keeping in touch and asking for his advice, even while running their own restaurants and cafes.
Along with his work at AUT, Alan has been a culinary judge for many years, working with Monteiths, Beef and Lamb New Zealand and Venison New Zealand as well coaching of chefs in culinary competitions.
John Kelly, Head of AUT’s Department of Culinary Arts, nominated Alan for the award.
Kelly says, “Alan is held with high regard when it comes to his profession and skills. He provides students with a tremendous amount of advice and guidance, and acts as a mentor not only to learners but also to his colleagues. This is an achievement that many other culinary educators will hopefully aspire to in years to come.”