In a true display of kotahitanga, the Toi Ohomai Culinary Arts (Level 5) class joined forces with Rotorua Whakaora to prepare more than 400 meals for the community on Friday, 29 May.
The class originally intended to prepare a fine dining experience for the Institute’s stakeholders, but the negative effects of COVID-19 on the community prompted a shift in focus.
At the same time, Rotorua Whakaora (formerly Love Soup), which collects food from Countdown Rotorua to provide meals for the homeless, has widened its services to offer food security for all people in need throughout Rotorua and nearby towns.
The culinary arts class, led by Tutor Tik Wang Tan, created a delicious menu for the event, featuring six meals, including a gourmet lamb burger with watercress coleslaw, Nepalese spicy grilled chicken on steamed rice, and Horopito pulled pork with stuffed potatoes and winter vegetables.
People were also encouraged to take a bag of produce and bakery goods to get them through and a slice of dessert.
A total of 410 meals were prepared, with 350 handed out on the day and the rest distributed to the Tokoroa community.
According to Bryon Dorrian, Toi Ohomai Academic Leader - Tourism and Hospitality, these types of events are the ideal real-life, hands-on situations that teach students the skills that will complement their qualifications in the workplace.
“We teach our students that being a sustainable chef is not just a philosophy around food, it’s about people, attitudes, communities and lifestyles. These experiences - that include local involvement through business, charity or employment - reap rewards.”
The response to the event was overwhelmingly positive from students, organisers and the community.
Student Lisa Marie Rota said the day was an “awesome experience” and she was “proud to contribute to the community”.
Elmer Peiffer, Founder of Rotorua Whakaora, said it was amazing to see vehicles lining all the way up the street.
“The families were very appreciative of the efforts the students made to provide a well-executed meal...their product was professional and showed excellent presentation skills.
“The event was well managed, and to see the smiles on everyone’s faces spoke volumes,” said Elmer.