Catering Assistant, Stanford University Residential Dining Experiences, Palo Alto, California, USA
Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts
His passion for food has grown thanks to his studies at AUT, says culinary arts alumnus Ronan Caldwell.
“AUT helped me realise how hospitality impacts the environment, and how I can make a positive difference on a personal level and within the workplace. AUT gave me an appreciation of what I studied, and I enjoyed the practical work with passionate lecturers.”
There were many highlights throughout his studies, Ronan says.
“One highlight for me was working with other culinary arts students and we decided to write about the issue of food waste. This assignment sparked lots of interest. This was further developed within a paper on gastronomy, which focused on appreciating food and its wider meanings. I also really enjoyed the papers on food ethics and sustainability, and the sociology of food, which gave me a new perspective on food and how it has influenced culture.”
Learning from experts in ethical sourcing
Now interning for Stanford University’s Residential Dining Experiences department, Ronan is using his understanding of food to cater for a wide range of events. He got the sought-after internship through the AUT Internz programme.
“This internship appealed to me because Stanford is a pioneer in responsible and ethical sourcing, which AUT helped me appreciate. In this role, I’m responsible for preparing food for events and functions across the university, including VIP dinners and special buffets. The largest dinner we’ve put on so far was for 300 people, but events can go up to 3,000 people.”
He enjoys being able to develop new skills through his internship, Ronan says.
“There are plenty of opportunities to learn new skills and work with new ingredients. There’s a relaxing time when we prepare ingredients, and there’s an exciting time when we serve lots of people very quickly.”
Advice for other students
After graduating from AUT at the end of 2019, Ronan has some great advice for other students.
“My advice for future students is to remember that hard work opens doors.
“I would also recommend taking every opportunity that greets you.”