Regional meets Royalty at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

Regional hospitality students welcomed a special guest at their cafe at the Sydney Royal Easter Show this year. Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne personally selected the Rural Students Cafe as a venue to visit. 155 students gained real-world experience as they were tasked to manage the front of house for the venue, while navigating a full-sized commercial kitchen.

115 regional students opted for the opposite side of the counter at the Sydney Royal Easter Show this year, as they welcomed and served customers at the Rural Students Cafe.

Typically most students' most significant decision for a day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show would be choosing what ride to go on first, or which show bag to buy. The stakes were a little different for these hospitality students, as they had to manage the logistics of operating a full-sized commercial kitchen, and front-of-house for the cafe that could seat up to 120 guests at any given time.

Hailing from various regional towns, there were also students from two of the Educational Pathways Program schools Kiama High School and Bundarra Central School. taking part. All aspects of the cafe were run by students, from food preparation to serving customers, closely monitored by experts in the field to ensure the experience was great for everyone.

The annual Sydney Royal Easter Show attracts an impressive crowd boasting up to 80,000 visitors a day, but on Saturday 9 April the guest of honour was Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne. The Princess was in attendance to officially open the Sydney Royal Easter Show and celebrate the 200th anniversary of the iconic event.

With the Rural Students Cafe personally selected as a must-see destination, Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne was greeted by three students at the counter before going behind the scenes to talk with students who were managing the kitchen duties.

In addition, Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell was also in attendance at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

“The Show is such a wonderful display of the country coming to the city. It’s an amazing opportunity for students to have exposure to agriculture and learn more about where food and fibre come from,” Ms Mitchell said.

Educational Pathways Coordinator Heather White has been organising the Rural Students Cafe program for the last 2 years, helping give students gain real-world experience.

“The Rural Student Cafe program gives students access to a unique opportunity they would not have otherwise had,” Heather said.

“We have some students here today who attend schools taking part in the Educational Pathways Program, where their work experience compliments their school-based apprenticeship and traineeship (SBAT).

“A student working at the cafe may also be doing a Certificate III in Hospitality (Commercial Cookery) which means the experience they get working in a fully equipped commercial kitchen would contribute significantly to their studies.”

The Rural Students Cafe operates over 12 days with 4 groups of just under 30 students running the show for 3 days before the next rotation. During this time the accompanying teachers and industry professionals guide the students, providing support to those who need it, and giving those who felt more comfortable the opportunity to take the lead.

Students are taught the core elements of the hospitality industry including food and beverage preparations and storage. Learning key rules such as FIFO (First In First Out) when it comes to rotating kitchen stock, and how to correctly store and prepare produce.

In terms of gaining a better understanding of how businesses run, they’re also provided an overview of the financial side of running a cafe.

After each day they tally the earnings from trade and although at first, the figure might seem impressive to some, the reality of business soon sets in. They’re talked through the process of dividing the figure across the various operational costs and working out the gross and net value.

Beyond trying to calculate the growth of their profit margin, the students experienced their own positive returns. Being able to work at one of Sydney’s renowned annual events is one thing, but the real world life and work experience coupled with the knowledge, confidence, and sense of accomplishment the students leave with is invaluable.

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