Rural students get a taste of working life

Skills Minister Steve Whan made a guest appearance at the Rural Students' Cafe during the Easter Show. Duyen Nguyen reports.

Vocational education students gain valuable work experience at the Royal Easter Show

More than 120 students from 12 of the state’s rural schools packed their aprons and travelled to the Sydney Royal Easter Show to operate the Rural Students Café.

Each day of the Easter Show, students served between 100-200 customers all the while learning how to prepare, plate and serve a tasting plate of canapes that was infused with native ingredients.

The menu was developed in consultation with Indigenous chef, Jo-Ann Leigh from the Goanna Hut, who incorporated bush tomato into the quiche, native thyme in the sausage roll and lemon myrtle in the meringue.

The students came as far as Bourke, Tumut and the Southern Cross School of Distance Education to hone their hospitality skills at the café, with the work experience contributing to their Certificate II in Hospitality or Certificate II Cookery.

For Tumut High School student, Melodie King, the experience helped progress her career goal of working in a commercial kitchen one day.

“I enjoy being in the kitchen with different types of people from different backgrounds. It’s a great experience where I am also hoping to learn about teamwork and new ways to go about playing with recipes,” Miss King said.

A man presents a certificate to a chef dressed in white clothes and an apron while another person looks on A man presents a certificate to a chef dressed in white clothes and an apron while another person looks on
Image: Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education Minister Steve Whan presents Peter Kell with a certificate to recognise his work supporting students during the Easter Show.

The students dished up their best work for a visit from Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education Steve Whan, who commended the students on their seamless front- and back-of-house service.

“Initiatives like the Rural Students Café are giving vocational education and training students unique opportunities to apply practical skills. The students did a wonderful job and plated up a delicious demonstration of their skills at the iconic Easter Show,” Mr Whan said.

“The café wouldn’t have been the success it was without the support and guidance from teachers who have years of hospitality and cookery experience behind them.”

Mr Whan presented a certificate of appreciation to Bathurst High School teacher, Peter Kell, who donned his head chef hat and mentored students for the entire duration of the show.

“It’s incredible to see how the experience transforms the students. On the first day they are usually anxious and then on the third day you see them running things themselves and talking to customers,” Mr Kell said.

“The Rural Students Café provides that realistic experience for students to learn about the dynamic between front and back of house. They are learning about food safety, planning and how to coordinate their day.”

Mr Whan finished every crumb on his plate and left the best to last – a decadent chocolate brownie.

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