17 Jun 2013
By Lisette Reymer, New Zealand Broadcasting School student
“Is it actually gonna work Chef?”
“Course it is!”
A weighty remark - as an authentic hangi is hoisted out of the ground by four of the nominated strongest 2nd year cookery students. The remaining 40-odd students gather around the action, eager to see the fruits of their hard work emerge. Smoke shrouds the area, the smell of quality meat and vege drifts across the campus and the Food and Hospitality crew are alive with anticipation.
As part of the 2nd year Diploma in Professional Cookery, students learn how to prepare, cook and serve a hangi, including the correct cultural protocol; digging a hole in the middle of campus, cutting enough kumara and potato to feed fifty hungry children, heading to CPIT at 3am to light the fire and lay the hangi, only to lift it out 6 hours later and serve it.
Today’s guests are from Phillipstown Primary School.
This is all about community and bringing our good neighbours from down the road to visit for a delicious meal,” says CPIT Tutor, Stan Tawa.
They wander into Visions on Campus Restaurant and openly announce their first impressions:
“Tables look so pretty!”
“I’m gonna eat it all myself!”
“Meat is more exciting than vegies.”
“That smells so yum!”
“I hope we can get seconds.”
“I want some of everything on my plate.”
The smiles around the room are infectious as I take in the scene of over 70 people indulging in a meal that had only an hour before been lifted from the ground. I am certain that several young chefs were born amongst the Phillipstown students during lunch, as they sat firing questions at the CPIT trainee chefs seated opposite them.
After the main course, there is steamed pudding for dessert. And in case that wasn’t enough to fill the bellies, donuts from the bakery class are distributed to each child, under strict but seemingly unrealistic instructions, not to eat them until they are back at school.
The enjoyment is evident on the faces of every guest in the restaurant as the Phillipstown students stand to sing a waiata of thanks which is soon to be summed up in words of appreciation from the Phillipstown School Principal Tony Simpson.
“The kids are just buzzing. Fantastic food, wonderful company, we are truly so grateful. It’s really warm fuzzies!”
Phillipstown Primary School is soon to be closed and it is clear just how special this occasion is for the students.
“This is our way of giving them a pat on the back and saying, you’ve been dealt a rough deal but we care,” says Manager of Culinary Programmes, Ryan Marshall.