14 Sep Manaaki Cafe offers top dining experience

The beginning of term 3 saw the launch of a unique dining experience at Nayland College. Since opening day, a steady stream of satisfied staff and Year 13 students have passed through the doors of Manaaki Cafe.

The cafe was the idea of hospitality teacher Michaela Nicholas who needed to be able to teach and assess Level 2 Food Service skills in an authentic environment. “We thought this would extend the skills students took with them as they left school. Hospitality is more than just cooking and in many cafe environments you need to know how to make food and serve,” Mrs Nicholas said.

The name Manaaki Cafe comes from the former school values of Manaaki Nayland before they changed to SOAR. Manaaki is fitting, as in Māori it means to give hospitality or care, and to host, entertain and show respect for someone.

The students are rostered on to  shifts where they alternate between the roles of front of house, kitchen hand and junior chef. Every student gets to try out every role.

As well as the obvious benefits for the cafe’s full and happy customers, it has been a positive experience for the hospitality students as well. Hayley Ewers has noticed that she has grown in confidence since the cafe began. “Before I started I was freaking out,” she said. “But now I’m right into it.”

For Tumanako Moore, working in the cafe has been a good chance to understand what it’s like to work as a team in a restaurant environment. However, there are other benefits as well. “You get to pretend to be real high class and talk to all the teachers,” he said.  “Afterwards you get to eat the leftovers.”

The menu has been widely praised for its tastiness, with diners choosing from a range of savoury lunch options followed by coffee and a sweet treat. Tumanako and Hayley share the same personal recommendation from the menu: the lasagne followed by a vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting and berry surprise.

Year 13 diner Erika Schrader would jump at the chance to visit the cafe again. She was impressed with her lunch of chicken pie followed by banana cake. “It was so good. I’ve never tasted icing so good,” she enthused.

The cafe is due to finish its golden run at the end of the term as students focus on developing barista skills in term 4. Teacher Michaela Nicholas is pleased with how the project has gone. Highlights for her have been watching the students grow in confidence, as well as offering staff a place to ‘escape’ to during lunchtimes. “It’s been great seeing the staff relax – and even have some lunch dates!” she said.

By Sera King