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From actor to chef, student Varun Toorkey on following his dreams.

33-year-old Indian television actor Varun Toorkey has taken a big leap towards pursuing his dream in the culinary industry. Varun is leaving his career of 13 years to study Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand’s Bachelor of Culinary Arts & Business. We sit down with Varun and discuss how the beginnings of his culinary journey are faring.

What drove you to change career paths?

The major chunk of the last 13 years would be me being an actor in the television industry I would say, but cooking, this has always been my love, my passion. I kind of stumbled upon the entertainment industry. And then one thing led to another, and it lasted for that long. But then COVID struck and that really pushed me to re-evaluate things. I finally decided that I should probably take the plunge before it's too late.

Why choose to study here at Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand?

So, it was at the beginning of 2020 where I had the opportunity to visit New Zealand. It was a cousin's wedding actually. So, I had a little bit of a taste of New Zealand already and I loved it. I had decided on Le Cordon Bleu because, of course, it is world renowned and one of the most popular culinary schools that you can choose. But specifically, this course, the Bachelor’s in culinary arts and business, that was only available in the New Zealand campus in Le Cordon Bleu where they amalgamated both arts and business.

How has it been transitioning from being a visitor to calling New Zealand your home?

It’s happening. It's gradual. The last time I was here, I didn't get to visit Wellington. So, this is my first time in the city of Wellington, and it is honestly one of the most beautiful cities that I've seen. And the fact that I get to call it home for the next few years is even more exciting. To get back into a student mindset takes its own time. But I think I'm headed towards the right direction. And it looks pretty positive for me.

How does your education here compare to India?

The education system in India is completely different to what it is over here. More so, it was also 15 years ago for me. It was a very exam-based system. You had to give it too much importance. In fact, all of the importance was given to that one hour. And it didn't really matter what you did before that. The system over here is more inclusive, as you go along, you're assessed. So, it’s easier to retain more things and we're not just memorizing for the sake of passing a test. It's definitely more useful for sure.

Finally, what inspired your passion for cuisine?

I guess it started at a young age when I just saw my mum cook. I know it's not a very different story from a lot of other people, but it is true. Anyone can cook, anyone can prepare food, anyone can fill their stomachs. But to make food a memorable experience is a whole different ballgame. And that is what I learned from my mother. My relationship with food grew and became stronger over the years, but because I started working at a really young age. When you get a bit of financial independence, when you're young, you want to keep on pursuing that. So, it was always a little bit of a void in me that I didn't pursue cooking professionally.

And so, I consider myself quite fortunate to have at 33, this point in time where I’m able to actually do this.


Learn more about the Bachelor in Culinary Arts and Business Degree here:  Bachelor of Culinary Arts and Business