Manaaki Pop-Up Cafe a win-win for all


With senior hospitality students involved in all aspects of the process, Manaaki Pop-Up Cafe is a win-win for students gaining credits and staff (and students) enjoying delicious coffee and home baked treats. Nayland College is one of a small number of high schools around the country with a certified commercial kitchen, able to offer tertiary level practical hospitality and catering credits for students.

When Principal Daniel Wilson arrived Nayland College six years ago, he brought with him a vision of what could be possible for hospitality, based on his previous experience at Manurewa High School. Head of Hospitality Michaela Nicholas also had a vision, wanting to see senior hospitality students engaged in more meaningful, practical learning and better prepared for future careers within the hospitality industry.

“The commercial kitchen happened as a result of Daniel,” she said. “When he took over as Principal, he wanted more from hospitality. He gave us an opportunity to share our vision and to support us. Our biggest thing was that we wanted to make a change in the Level 3 curriculum because up until that point the only thing that we could teach was ‘Demonstrate Knowledge Of…’ so it wasn’t about the cooking, it was about the writing and there was so much writing it was ridiculous. We could see that if we met the criteria of the Level 3 practical standards, which required the commercial kitchen, we could then get them up out of their seats [doing] less writing and more doing.”

Mrs Nicholas flew up to Auckland to spend two days with the team at Manurewa, looking at how they operated their cafe. She then sat down to figure out how to make it “uniquely Nayland” and Manaaki Cafe was the result. 

From there began the huge process of all that was required to gain accreditation to teach standards that are usually only taught at a tertiary level. This included having to install a full commercial kitchen, to sell everything the students made, to have senior students in chef’s whites and to have qualified chefs running the programme. In behind all of that were the food safety plans, quality control plans and loads of paperwork and box ticking!

Image by: Sarah Luton

Manaaki Cafe is now in its fourth year of operation, offering two course lunches with barista made coffee in a restaurant style setting in one of our classrooms in term three each year. In terms one and two, Manaaki Pop-Up Cafe operates out of the HOS1 window, serving coffee and sweet treats at interval and delicious hot food at lunchtimes. Students are on a roster covering intervals and lunchtimes two to three days per week with Level 2 students usually making the lunches and Level 3 students doing the coffees, sweets and selling.

This is Jack Nolan’s first year being involved in Manaaki Pop-Up Cafe. For the Year 13 student, making coffees is the most fun part while he says that ‘doing the math’ involved in selling is the most challenging side! When asked what he has learnt he replied with a laugh, “Work faster… always got to be on your toes!” 

Jack Nolan hands over a coffee and slice to Miss Hecht at Manaaki Cafe — Image by: Sarah Luton

Year 13 student Trent Wallace has taken Hospitality and Catering right through his time at Nayland College saying “I really enjoy it and I have quite a passion for it.” While Trent really enjoys being creative with what he’s cooking, his specialty is definitely coffee, something that started last year and has picked up even more now that he’s got a coffee machine at home to practice on. He hopes to complete the Level 3 Barista qualification so that he can carry on making coffees after school.

Manaaki Pop-Up Cafe – Trent Wallace serving Mr Cameron — Image by: Sarah Luton

Max Floyd joined the Manaaki Pop-Up Cafe team when he was only in Year 10 after showing keen interest in learning to make coffees. “I saw these machines and asked [Mr Robinson] about it and he started getting me down here at morning tea with the Year 13’s.” 

Max has been coming down regularly ever since saying “[I] just like making all the coffees.” He’s now doing Level 1 Hospitality and Catering and works part time for The Beach Cafe.

Olivia Sarginson & Max Floyd making coffees during interval for Manaaki Pop-Up Cafe — Image by: Sarah Luton

In talking to Hospitality Tutor Matt Robinson about Manaaki Cafe he said, “Mostly it’s there to give these guys a bit of a taste of some sort of time pressure, this is what reality might look like, in a modified sense.”

“It’s always really nice when we start to run the restaurant in Term 3…I always really like seeing one or two or three people sort of rise up, often through pressure, and they’ll just run it. And I’ll say, cool, you’re in charge! And the first time they’ll quite often crash and burn and I’ll say ‘do you want a hand organising that?’ and they’ll say ‘no, no I’ve got it in my head’ and it doesn’t go very well, and there’s big waits… and then you can see them gain a proper understanding of like ‘ok, this is what needs to happen’ and ‘no I can’t delay that’ and ‘no that isn’t how that’s going to run.’ And that’s what in a restaurant we call ‘running the pass.’ It’s really awesome to see somebody being able to pick that up and actually be able to hold all the pieces. There’s often some really good days where it just flows and you get a good group and a good leader come out of it.”

When asked how Manaaki Cafe has benefitted the students Mrs Nicholas replied, “The students are getting better placements, because we’re starting to make a name for ourselves around town. I notice that when we talk to those in the industry, they really like our programme and how broad the content is… entry level bar service, food and beverage service, coffee, cooking, baking… so they’ve got a really good find. So [the students are] getting better placements, they’re more familiar with the equipment, having the commercial equipment, and they seem to have a greater sense of pride. They love wearing the chefs whites and they love hearing the feedback from the customers that they’re serving.  When there’s a line waiting for their food and they’re selling out their food, well it doesn’t get better than that for feedback does it? So they stand with pride behind what they’re making more… When they know their food is going somewhere and they’re getting awesome feedback that just makes them stand tall and proud. 

Keep an eye out next term for when Manaaki Cafe opens up their two-course, sit-down, restaurant-style lunches again!

By Sarah Luton