Student wins gold with silver service
A local student’s silver service delivered a gold medal win for her restaurant team in a national competition last week.
Pukerua Bay hospitality student Melissa Lind and two Weltec student chefs came top of 12 teams at the Nestle Toque d’Or competition, held in Auckland on July 18. The students won $2000 each. Miss Lind, in her second year of a diploma in hospitality operations supervision, was watched by judges as she laid a table for three in classic ‘‘table d’hoˆ te’’ style, then served mystery guests a four-course meal cooked by her team-mates.
Judges marked her on everything from friendliness to how far apart she laid the cutlery.
‘‘They listen to how you talk to your guests. They ask you questions about your food and wine matches,’’ Miss Lind says.
She spent hours polishing wine glasses and folding napkins to prepare for the competition.
The repetition paid off when Miss Lind worked a practice shift at celebrated Wellington restaurant Logan Brown, and found the skills came naturally.
‘‘I was quite blown away how I actually knew what to do when I was there.’’
It was work at cafe Ruby’s in Mana that set the 18-year-old on her career path.
She has waitressed there since she was 13 and found she much preferred meeting people at front of house to sweltering in a kitchen out back.
Being bitten by the travel bug on a ‘‘life-changing’’ school trip to Italy was further motivation to make a career of hospitality.
Miss Lind is itching to take her skills overseas, especially to work on cruise ships.
She had left Aotea College for Wellington High School in Year 12 for its hospitality curriculum, but left school for Weltec at the end of that year.
‘‘(If) I know what I want to do, there’s no point in staying in school,’’ she says.
She was also inspired to seize the day by the death of her boyfriend, Aotea student Nathan Laurenson, and his best friend Udo Fourie in a car crash in 2009.
‘‘They were such inspirational boys, they did everything they wanted to. You just want to get out and do it all because you don’t know what’s going to happen.’’
Paremata chef and Westpac Stadium venue manager Michael Kirk was one of the event’s 17 judges. The contest pushes students to achieve high standards and impress industry figures, he says.
Silver belle: Hospitality student Melissa Lind has perfected the silver service skills that won her Weltec team a top national prize on July 18.