Inside the Kawarau Village’s chic Hilton Queenstown 18 primary school children have been beavering away in a commercial kitchen.
The Remarkables Primary kids have spent five months learning knife skills, menu coordination and cost planning with Hilton’s head chef Frederic Monnier as part of a food and technology module.
Last week the year seven and eight pupils graduated at a ceremony, receiving Hilton aprons and certificates.
“The children completed the same course we put our [Hilton] team members through – so effectively they could work in our kitchens,” Hilton’s general manager Andrew Nisbet (above) says.
“It teaches the kids discipline, gives them a huge insight into the food industry and develops their knowledge about eating fresh food,” Nisbet says.
Each weekly session taught pupils to plan, prepare and cost meals with the final class last week delivering top-notch canapes, Nisbet says.
“It’s great experience for the children and good for the industry as it really needs it at the moment,” Monnier says.
“It’s good for them to come into a commercial kitchen and gain work experience – especially at such a young age.
“They realise it is a hard environment, and you need to stay focussed and work well together.”
Mio Akiyama, 11, says the module taught her a lot about food and eating healthy produce.
“We learnt a lot about food safety, different cutting techniques and how to combine different flavours, which I wouldn’t have known before,” Mio says.
“I definitely will try cooking at home,” she adds.
A second group of Remarkables Primary pupils will get to do the same module next term.
Their knowledge and skills will be put to the test in December when the group will create a menu, cost it and prepare it for the Year Eight final dinner at the Hilton.