Diners get taste of students’ talents

Saturday September 19, 2015 Written by Published in Weekend
“Service!” CITTI Food and Beverage diploma student Elleana Rima displays some of the impressive dishes on off er at the Kai Reka Bistro & Bar. “Service!” CITTI Food and Beverage diploma student Elleana Rima displays some of the impressive dishes on off er at the Kai Reka Bistro & Bar.

Fresh kaikai, good company, and aspiring local chefs changing the way food is prepared in the Cook Islands...what more could you want? CI News reporter Phillipa Webb got an opportunity to taste the creations of the final Kai Reka Bistro & Bar for 2015 and chat to Hospitality/Services faculty head Mike Goldstein about the new direction of the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute...

Mike and I were greeted with a smile by CITTI student Elleana Rima when we arrived at the Kai Reka Bistro & Bar on Wednesday.

The Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute (CITTI) Hospitality/Services faculty has wrapped up a year of giving lucky diners a taste of fine cuisine with the grand finale of their student-led restaurant this week.

Lead tutor Phillip Nordt led a kitchen staffed by nine of his City and Guilds diploma in Food Preparation and Cooking student, while diners in the restaurant were waited on by students completing their City and Guilds diploma in Food and Beverage Services.

The restaurant serves as the students’ final practical for the City and Guilds diploma.

“It’s all about being able to practise in a ‘live’ environment,” said Mike.

“And they’re getting better – it’s amazing seeing the training they’ve gone through...taking their techniques to the next level.”

Nordt said the menu for this Kai Reka Bistro and Bar had been simplified, focusing on ‘healthy and simple’ living which would be easily replicated in homes across the island. 

“For example the fish is cooked like steak because that’s the healthiest way to do it,” he said.

However diners were still treated to five-star restaurant quality food.

And next year, CITTI will be moving to a full apprenticeship scheme for their students.

This means instead of attempting to juggle full time hospitality work with classes, the students will be primarily based in resort and restaurant kitchens around the island.

“It’s hard when they are at class during the day then don’t finish work until 11pm. And then they have to turn around and do it all again,” said Mike.

Next year there will instead be limited class time to work around their busy culinary schedules.

Mike said the school had received a great response from the hospitality industry on Rarotonga.

“So far there’s been a really good reaction. It’s aligned with what they’re doing and what they’re asking for.”

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