UCOL's student chefs jumped from the test kitchen to the big leagues last Friday, helping feed 270 guests at Palmerston North's 150th city anniversary dinner.
Held at the Regent on Broadway, UCOL's Level 5 Diploma in Cookery team was approached by Brew Union, who spearheaded the dinner's catering. "We knew we'd need some extra hands on deck, and we already work with their diploma students doing placements with us," says Brew Union owner Jules Grace. "We thought it was a great way to partner together."
270 guests can eat a lot of canapés in forty minutes – so while Brew Union's chefs tackled the mains, the cookery students created 1,000 morsels to keep the crowd happy. Collaborating with Chef Lecturer Ros Towey to develop the canapé menu, it included Dukkah-crusted ovation lamb, sake-cured salmon, vegan crispy polenta bites, and local Cartwheel Creamery Brie served with gingerbread and a spiced mango jam.
Level 5 Diploma in Cookery student Manjinder Kaur serves canapés the students made.
"It was one fantastic looking menu," says Senior Lecturer & Programme Leader Ian Drew. "The students got everything prepared here in our UCOL kitchen and were thrilled with their results. They also helped serve them at the event – it's not often a chef has time to serve what they themselves have cooked!"
"A really big function like this is a completely different experience for our students, and we leapt at the chance to assist. It fitted in well with what we're teaching, and gives that added realism that you can't get in a training kitchen. We love working alongside local employers – they get to see what our students can do first hand, and sometimes job opportunities come out of it too."
"We were the guests' first experience when they walked in the door – and it was absolutely packed," says student chef Mallory Olsen. "But everyone really liked what we'd made, we'd rotate through the groups and people would start looking for their favourites."
Level 5 Diploma in Cookery student Mallory Olsen serves canapés the students made
"The Dukkah lamb was the most popular," adds student chef Thai Long Oeng. "We had to have a strategy for the crowds! I usually work in the kitchen so it was unique, picking up the serving side of things. Later on we were carrying four plates in one go, so we could help clear things as fast as possible."
Level 5 Diploma in Cookery student Wilson Garin helps prep canapés.
Both students enjoyed it, and were pleased with how the evening went for the team. As Olsen put it, "Especially the first half – just representing UCOL proud!"
Level 5 Diploma in Cookery students and Chef Lecturer Ros Towey, who helped support the anniversary dinner.