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From Student to Business Owner


Chef Sebastien (left) with freshly graduated Briony (right).

Briony graduated from Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand in December 2021, after less than 3 years of working in the industry she has boldly started her own business 'Butterfingers by Briony' located on Auckland's west coast. While back in Wellington Briony visited our campus to update us on her latest success.

Why did you choose Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand?

I did look at [other options] and it just wasn't the vibe, it kind of looked like people that just wanted to do it for fun? But then I got in contact [with LCBNZ] and they invited me to come and look at the property. I met Chef Sebastian that day and I thought, ‘He seems like he knows a lot.’ and just fell in love with the city Wellington and went from there.

What did you enjoy most about studying with us?

I think I just enjoyed that everyone was here for the same reason, we were all here to build a career in either pâtisserie or cuisine. Coming to Wellington for the first time, it was nice that we went around the city as a group with the chefs showing us where we get our products and all that kind of stuff. And then coming back for our first demo class and just the vibe that everyone had.

They were super excited to be there. And then when we went into our first practical, we were all a bit nervous, but we all helped each other knowing that we all had the same kind of passion and career choice and building each other up to get to that final product and then all being excited for each other.

One of our Le Cordon Bleu teddies providing support during Butterfingers opening night.

How did your journey lead you to becoming a business owner?

So, after graduating in December 2021, I worked at Bolton Hotel for six months or so and then decided that I wanted to try and go more into breads and bakery. I got a job at Leed Street Bakery with Shepard Elliott, and I was there for about a year and a half and loved every minute of it.

And then I just decided one day that I kind of wanted to be my own boss and have the creative side of doing whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I opened up my business and I change the menu weekly, so my customers never get bored, my staff don't get bored, and I get to be creative and pretty much do whatever I want. I love it.

Has LCBNZ continued to assist you since graduation?

Yes, yes it did. The Bolton Hotel in particular because Chef Sebastian knew the head chef there quite well and told him what I was like. Then with Leed Street, Sue and the career department said that Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand has contacts with them because students from the Diplôme Avancé go there to do their internship.

Teacher and student reunited during the opening evening.

Apparently you had a special guest during Butterfingers opening night?

I did an opening evening with family and friends before my business opened officially. It was super exciting when I found out that chef Sebastian was up in Auckland and was able to attend. We had people arriving a little bit early and chef Sebastian arrived and realised that I was a little bit distressed.

So he just jumped into the kitchen and asked what he could help with. It meant a lot to me that he was willing to just help and didn't have to be the one in charge. That he wanted for me to succeed that night. By the time we were done, everyone was there, and we were celebrating the opening of Butterfingers by Briony, it was a fantastic night.

It was very special to have him there, as he pretty much taught me everything that I now know. It means quite a lot that he was there.

Now that you’re a business owner, how has your relationship with LCB changed?

I mean, to me, it's been nice that I receive a message every so often just checking up to make sure everything's going well. And I always know that I can message someone at Le Cordon Bleu’s Wellington campus if I need advice, and they're all super willing to help. I'm grateful for Sue being able to get me in contact with potential staff members which are alumni of LCBNZ.

It's nice being able to help graduates of LCBNZ be able to get a job in their desired industry and have as much passion for the industry as I do.

What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?

I think just being able to grow the business and then seeing each week that I'm having to put more and more product out and still selling out. It is quite a cool thing to see that by the end of the day we've got nothing, knowing that next week we'll do more, and hopefully it will also sell out.

What will be the next step for you?

I would love to be able to teach, it is a goal of mine. Get the business up and running and get it growing so that I'm able to maybe step aside for a little bit and be able to teach people that also have the same determination to do what I do.

Looking back, is there anything you would change?

I don't really think I would have done anything different. I've enjoyed the journey it's taken me on. Moving down here [to Wellington] with only a week notice, packed up my life in Auckland, moved down here, studied and then worked for a couple of years, and I was like, 'I think it's time to be my own boss’ and went and set up a business. It's going well.

Any advice for those considering a career in the culinary arts?

I have to say, just do it. You don't know where you could end up in a couple of years. If you go down the culinary path, you might end up overseas doing something you love. You might end up opening your own place one day. I would definitely encourage you to take that career path and just jump in and do it.

We will soon be visiting 'Butterfingers by Briony' to gain more insight into Briony's accomplishments, stay tuned.
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