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Interview with Sydney alumna Gyoka Yau Okina

The NSW Training Awards are celebrated throughout the state with eleven regional events held each year to celebrate the excellence displayed by apprentices, trainees and students in NSW.

International Student of the YearCompeting with over 23,000 students in our region Le Cordon Bleu would like to congratulate Gyoka Yau Okina our Le Cordon Bleu Sydney student who won International Student of the Year at the Excellence Awards held recently at Ryde.  She was also nominated and won Vocational Student of the year and was recognized as special award winner for the Women in a non-traditional trade or vocation sponsored by Women NSW. Gyoka Yau Okina studied the Advanced Diploma of Hospitality at Le Cordon Bleu and is now an alumna of the Le Cordon Bleu Sydney campus.

Gyoka is a proud achiever with a passion for food and fashion, read more about her here.

What high school do you attend or graduated from?

Yokohama International School in Japan

Why did you choose this training/career pathway?

Since childhood, I have always enjoyed engaging myself with creative activities and baking was one of them.  After school and on weekends, I would be reading recipe books, trying to make the cakes and pastries that I read about, and serving them to my family and relatives.  It was a process of trial and error (as my mom wasn’t much of a help when it comes to pastry) but whenever I failed, it made me want to challenge even more and try until I was happy with the result.  I found great pleasure when people gave me compliments on how good the cakes tasted and since then, becoming a pastry chef has been my dream profession.

What was the best thing about studying an Advanced Diploma?

With much interest and love for food, starting a café business has been my long-sought dream.  After finishing the diploma program in patisserie which has built the foundation of my practical skills, moving onto the Advanced Diploma program was a matter of course to study management.  The course was highly challenging, learning all the different subjects which at times sounded like a language from the outer space (especially finance and law!), loaded with numerous amount of assignments to finish and studying for the exams, while working part time in the kitchen.  There were moments I had struggled to balance my study, work and social life, but over the course of time, this experience allowed me to plan and time manage myself more efficiently and wisely which I find essential to working in a kitchen and also running a business. Although most strenuous, the Business Plan class was extremely beneficial, allowing me to solidify my dream from what was merely a hazy idea into something more concrete with a clear vision. 

What did you enjoy the most about study at Le Cordon Bleu?

What I enjoyed the most about the Advanced Diploma course, aside from the kitchen practical class (as I’m sure everyone preferred it more than theory), was the socialisation with all the people I met.  The great chefs, lecturers and fellow classmates have all inspired me and helped me when I was struggling and pushed me to challenge myself beyond my comfort zone. Because of this I feel I have accomplished things I’d never thought I could’ve.   And now that I have graduated from LCB, it is what I miss the most but I am certain that the relationship I have built with everyone during the course of study will be treasured for many years to come and that I can always contact and reach them when in need. 

What does the future hold for you?

Currently, I work as a pastry chef at Hotel Centennial in Woollahra, a newly revamped restaurant under the direction of a renowned chef Justin North.  I plan to work in the kitchen a little longer to gain more experience and further develop my technical skills, not just in pastry but extending my trainings to bread baking and savoury cooking as well. I would also like to take more advanced classes in pastry, attend industry presentations, and hopefully participate in more competitions to keep on challenging myself and stay updated with the industry trend.  I then plan to gain some experience in the front of house roles and learn more about management.

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