Māori chef aims to find food identity through culinary study

By Stefan Dimitrof

A Maori chef is taking the next step in his culinary journey to study for a bachelor of culinary arts degree.

Joshua Kanara-Bailey (Te Arawa) is a chef from Hamilton with over 20 years of experience but looking to take his culinary knowledge to the next level.

“My plan is to study towards a bachelor of culinary arts, which is exploring my food journey and history to figure out my food identity as well as food styling."

As a child, Kanara-Bailey was heavily influenced by his mother who worked in restaurants and he spent a lot of time studying food technology at high school.

Kanara-Bailey's signature dish: Bacon-wrapped eye fillet served with potato rosti, seasonal greens, field mushroom, bearnaise sauce and jus.

Kanara-Bailey also spent time learning the ropes in cafes, functions and a pop-up restaurant and gained invaluable experience working at a resort by Lake Rotoiti.

Reaching a crossroads in career choice Kanara-Bailey chose the life of a chef. saying that he "wasn’t built to run” so being a police officer was out of the question.

“I’m currently a cookery tutor at Te Pukenga Wintec in Hamilton where I teach the fundamentals of cooking.”

As well as cooking, Kanara-Bailey participates in the community as a guest chief judge at the Waikato Culinary Fair and works with the Pacific Island community holding events like the MKR Cook Islands.


Kanara-Bailey with one of his Wintec students

Kanara-Bailey’s advice for rangatahi is “if you are passionate about food and hospitality give it a go. Learn the fundamentals, which will give you the foundation to move into food space you are passionate about and go hard.”

“I always say to my students that we all start here, then you will end up in all different spaces in hospitality all over the world.”