Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti
6 mins ago
Odell Reynolds may be able to whip up the most sumptuous treats, yet – against all odds – she doesn’t have a sweet tooth and can easily go without sugar. This, however, is not the only surprising fact about the EIT patisserie graduate from Maraenui.
Odell’s family is a family of bakers and chefs. Her two older brother are chefs and one of her sons – Odell has seven children – is training to be one. But it was probably Odell’s mother who passed down her passion for pastries and pies. “I have the sweetest childhood memories of making eclairs, custard squares and rice puddings with my mum,” says the 48-year-old.
For twelve years, Odell was working as a gardener for Napier City Council when she felt it was time for a change. “I really enjoyed it and gardening is still what I love doing in my free time. However, I was always an avid baker so one day I decided that I should really follow my passion,” says Odell. A baking certificate at EIT got the ball rolling. “During the course I did my 50 hours work experience with the Pieman in Maraenui who taught me so much and still has the most amazing donuts,” says Odell.
After gaining the certificate, Odell enrolled in the NZ Diploma in Cookery (Advanced) – Patisserie strand (level 5) which she completed last year. “I was the oldest student in class, and everyone just called me Nan,” Odell smiles, “I wasn’t made to feel this way though and we became friends, and still are. It was just so much fun and I particularly enjoyed creating homemade chocolates. Korey, our tutor was amazing, an encyclopaedia of knowledge.”
By the end of the programme, Odell was offered three jobs. “There is a massive shortage of bakers in Hawke’s Bay hence the fact it was easy to find employment,” she says. Odell now works at the bakery at New World, Greenmeadows. “I just love it, I’m working with such an amazing crew,” she says.
At 3.00 am, when most of Napier is still fast asleep, Odell gets out of bed, work starts at 4 and finishes at 12.30 pm. “I got used to the hours. They allow me to do other things and spend time with my family and dogs.” On the job, Odell is responsible for making donuts, filling the cabinets with cheesecakes and slices, and she also helps with general baking. “A supermarket bakery is a great place to learn and get a feel for big-scale production.”
Over the years, Odell has formed a solid plan for her future. Unlike other cities in New Zealand, Napier doesn’t have a dessert restaurant. “I’m thinking of opening a medium sized café, where people can have coffee and dessert after a movie, as an afternoon tea treat or late night snack. I would love to offer desserts from all around the world. There are so many foreigners living in Napier. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to serve them their favourite comfort sweets from home when they feel like it?”