After spending two years studying hotel management in Switzerland, Diljeet returned to India before opting for a change of pace by moving to New Zealand in 2007. Here Diljeet furthered his study by pursuing a Level 5 diploma in cookery and bakery at the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT).
Moving to New Zealand was a bit of a challenge initially for Diljeet but after eight years he considers himself a Kiwi through and through.
“I decided to move to New Zealand because at the time a lot of my friends were coming here to study and I heard that it was a really nice country and easy to live in. People here were welcoming and easy to talk to.”
After completing the one-year course, Diljeet found work as a chef at a Lone Star restaurant in Taranaki.
“Being a chef is a little different from being a baker; it’s a lot more pressure, especially when it’s a full house. You have to be really efficient and quick, which are good skills, but sometimes [the pressure] didn’t let me enjoy the job and I always felt like someone was breathing down my neck to get the meals out.”
When he moved to Auckland, Diljeet became a baker, first working in a cafe before working in the bakery at Countdown.
“With being a baker there is still a lot of pressure, because there are certain deadlines that you have to have the products ready by. It’s different though because it is mass production and so you are working on making a lot of one thing, rather than making a lot of different things at once, which is what I had to do as a chef.”
As a baker, Diljeet has noticed that the industry is really culturally diverse. He enjoys learning not only about baking but also about people from different backgrounds.
“Also, like any job, when I see the finished product I always feel really accomplished and quite proud of my work, so that is always an awesome feeling.”
Diljeet has become used to rising at 2.30am and the change in sleeping patterns. Usually finishing work at 11.30am, he sleeps in two shifts so he can find time to spend with his family and also get enough rest before the next shift. Diljeet’s family often reap the tasty rewards of his labours.
“I really enjoy making bread because I can always vary it to make it taste a little different, and my family think it’s really yummy as well, so it’s always good to be able to use my work skills in my daily life.”
For those considering becoming a baker or a chef, a love of cooking is obviously a given, but also Diljeet insists that good time-management skills, organisation and creativity are traits all good bakers should have.
“It’s a lot of hands-on work and getting your fingers into dough and things like that. At the same time being able to multitask is key because you’re cooking, creating, planning and cleaning all at the same time, so it’s busy, but never boring.”