Manaaki Café is open for business


This term has seen the welcome return of the Manaaki café. Run by Hospitality and Catering students, the café sees a classroom being turned into a fully operational café for two lunchtimes a week. Customers can make bookings at the school Business Centre.

For $10, diners are treated to a delicious lunch menu with two different choices of main, a desert, and a barista-made coffee. Customers are fully waited on by students who take orders and bring customers their food.

Currently in its fourth year, the café can seat up to 32 people. It was set up as part of the Year 12 Hospitality and Catering program, which utilises NCEA standards requiring students to be serving food in a real café to achieve. Staff are taking full advantage of the opportunity to have a café meal during their lunch break. Members of the public are welcome as well.

Head of the Hospitality area, Michaela Nicholas, has been instrumental in the setting up and running of the café. She wanted students to experience the full range of skills that working in a food environment requires.

“What we wanted to do is have more authentic learning opportunities for our students where they could try on things for size at school,” she said. “It was a really cool opportunity to do more than just cooking at level 2, because hospitality is more than just cooking.”

“We want to make our kids more employable because there are so many more cafes than what there were 10 years ago, and if you work in a café, you have to have food prep, food service, customer service, and barista qualifications. So that is where we started changing the course.”

Level 2 hospitality student, Lara Edwards has done hospitality for several years and has had four shifts at Manaaki café. Despite initial nerves, she enjoyed the experience.

“I was really nervous, I was freaking out at first. But it was easier than I thought it was and I want to do it again because it is fun,” Lara said.

Staff wait to be served by the students at Maanaki Cafe.  — Image by: Duncan McKinlay

Lara said she enjoyed the challenge of serving actual customers. “It makes me want to do a better job because it is not just practicing with my friends,” she said. She now feels confident she could work in the hospitality industry.

Ms. Nicholas said that the department had worked hard to instill a sense of pride in the students in what they were doing, ensuring the standard of food and service within the café was high.

“We want to give our kids the best step up, make a name for Nayland as a place that teaches things well to a high standard, so that if you are looking to hire someone, Nayland is the place to go,” Ms. Nicholas said. “It’s raised the quality of the food because they want to be proud of what they serve, and we promote that as in – ‘you are doing café style food and we want you to get the compliments back from the staff.’ And they rise to the occasion, they love the feedback from the staff.”

With students learning valuable skills, at a high level, Ms. Nicholas said it is much easier for them to now step into the hospitality industry once they leave school.

“We prepare our students so well, that in some ways they can just jump straight into an apprenticeship,” she said. “The other thing about hospitality which is really great, is if they do travel or if they do go off to university, it might not be their career choice, but they can so easily pick it up as a part time job.”

Liv Igaron, Year 13, enjoyed her experience of working front of house at Manaaki Café so much, she has returned this year to coach the Year 12 students.

“I love hospitality. I love doing front of house,” Liv said. “I did it multiple times last year, so I wanted these guys to know that it is okay to be nervous, but you also have to be presentable, be calm and appear relaxed.”

Liv said she gained lots of confidence through her work at Manaaki Café, and it had now steered her towards a future career path.

“Right now, I am thinking of doing a course at NMIT around front of house and hospitality,” she said.

You can enjoy a meal at Manaaki café on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Term 3 by booking through the school Business Centre.

By Duncan McKinlay