Meet our people: Courtney Schimanski, Pastry Chef

Meet our people: Courtney Schimanski, Pastry Chef


Courtney Schimanski joined Te Pae Christchurch in 2021 as a Pastry Chef. Courtney’s culinary career began at Ara, studying part-time while she was still in high school, eager to kickstart her career. Courtney honed her pastry skills at The George Hotel and Christchurch Casino, learning invaluable skills, especially in catering for large numbers.  

Courtney grew up in a family of chefs, with her passion for desserts starting as a young girl, when each week Courtney and her Gran would pick a recipe to bake together. The freedom to use your imagination and creativity to craft unique dishes, and seeing the joy they bring to people, continues to inspire Courtney as a Pastry Chef. 

I love seeing people’s reactions when they receive their food, especially when one of my dishes, like ‘The Shroom’, lights up their faces. The diversity of events at Te Pae means I’m always learning and pushing creative boundaries.” 

Courtney enjoys the challenge of making each dessert unique and using quality ingredients and equipment in the Te Pae pastry kitchen. Being part of a large culinary team provides the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other, enhancing creativity. The sense of camaraderie and the collective celebration of achievements makes it a unique and fulfilling experience. Te Pae offers a dynamic environment where attention to detail and innovation are always at the forefront. 

One of Courtney’s favourite desserts created for Te Pae is ‘The Shroom’, which is special for its theatrical presentation and the joy it brings to people. The team at Te Pae have recently launched our new menu, which features the ‘Red’ dessert. This dish was a great accomplishment for Courtney, due to the complex balance of hay smoke, peppercorns, and tart berries.  

Courtney draws inspiration for her desserts from various sources: mentors, other innovative pastry chefs, and the ingredients sourced from the Canterbury region. Showcasing local products in her dishes is a significant inspiration. In addition, the resilience of Christchurch after the earthquakes and the revival of the hospitality industry have fuelled Courtney’s desire to create desserts that bring joy.  

In terms of current dessert trends, Courtney has seen a growing focus on dietary and lifestyle requirements. This has challenged chefs to innovate and create dishes that are both safe and delicious. The new menu features more dietary options, ensuring everyone feels included. As someone with dietary issues herself, Courtney understands how important this is. 

In the future, Courtney would love to travel to Europe, home to some of the world’s most amazing patisseries and chefs. Being surrounded by incredible food and learning from the best pastry chefs in the world would be a dream come true. Then to bring back that knowledge to New Zealand to inspire the next generation of pastry chefs would be incredible. 

When Courtney isn’t busy crafting beautiful desserts, you may spot her out training for half marathons. Being outdoors and breathing in fresh air after a day indoors helps Courtney reset and prepare for new challenges. 

Te Pae is incredibly proud to have Courtney on our team, bringing passion, creativity, and joy to every dessert she creates. Keep an eye out for her delightful creations at your next event!