Born and raised in Yokohama, Gyoka Yau Okina exemplifies the type of alumna Le Cordon Bleu Australia has come to expect. Raised to follow her instincts, Gyoka may look shy and reserved but is actually a bold and daring character with her decision to travel to Australia depicting such a personality. Prior to coming to Australia, Gyoka worked in the fashion industry, graduating from university in New York with a bachelor’s degree in ‘Fashion Merchandising and Management’. After her studies in America she was introduced to the joy of surfing, upon which the idea of going to Australia to learn surfing captured her imagination. After a year in Sydney she returned to Japan where she started her Le Cordon Bleu training, but her love of Australia and the comprehensive training programs available brought her back.
Having lived and studied in Japan, USA and Australia, Gyoka considers the education and training system in Australia to be one of the best. While studying a Diplôme Avance de Gestion Culinaire (Advanced Diploma of Hospitality) was at times challenging for Gyoka, with extensive hours in the kitchen and working under pressure in an extreme environment, she quickly found her feet. By the time she graduated she was awarded the International Student of the Year at North Sydney Institute 2015 Excellence Awards, an incredible achievement.
Now Gyoka is looking forward to her new life and hoping to work in a high level kitchen for some time to gain more knowledge and experience, and further develop her technical skills as a pastry chef. Her love of travel has also not abated and she hopes to continue in future and to be able to broaden her perspectives, and participate in more competitions like the Callebaut Chocolate Showpiece Challenge in 2014 which she readily acknowledges was one of the most memorable achievements during her training. As Gyoka said...
it was a huge accomplishment for me, having to design, execute and deliver the showpiece all from scratch by myself when chocolate work was definitely not my forte. This experience helped build my confidence and to always challenge myself beyond my comfort zone
And for the future? Her dream is to open her own fashion boutique café in Australia, using the knowledge and skills that she acquired during the Advanced Diploma program, her current employment, and from her previous study and career in fashion merchandising. With a love of food, and a passion for fashion, opening a fashion café has been her long-sought after dream. And while there were moments in which she struggled to balance her study, work and social life, over the course of time, her experience at Le Cordon Bleu taught her the business skills and acumen to be able to plan and time manage herself more efficiently and wisely, essential to become a chef and run your own business.
Ultimately Gyoka acknowledges that the opportunity to train in Australia and at Le Cordon Bleu Sydney helped her build and acquire these skills and knowledge and gave her the confidence to take the first step in her career footpath. With strong determination she is now pursuing her second career as a pastry chef to fulfil her childhood dream of 20 years.