TRUE BREW: Maisie Kaufmann Centre Hospitality students have opened a cafe called Maisie's Kafe to get work experience. Grant Ferguson works the coffee machine.
TRUE BREW: Maisie Kaufmann Centre Hospitality students have opened a cafe called Maisie's Kafe to get work experience. Grant Ferguson works the coffee machine. Donna Jones

Gympie Kaufmann Centre students open cafe

Cappucino anyone?
Cappucino anyone? Donna Jones

THE students at the Maisie Kaufmann Centre in Gympie may have had a rough start to life, but they're grabbing the opportunity to turn that around now with both hands.

Eight students are currently completing a Certificate III in Hospitality with teacher Tracey Widdows and with the full support of all the staff.

The tiny federally-funded school in Hyne St is a hospitality hub for these students, aged between 17 and 24, and a place where they can all feel encouraged and supported.

 

Toby Harrison takes charge of the dishes.
Toby Harrison takes charge of the dishes. Donna Jones

A new initiative put together by the Gympie school is Maisie's Kafe. The staff and students have converted one of their classrooms to a fully functioning cafe, complete with chair cushions, tablecloths, curtains, mood music and table decorations.

Each Thursday, the students cook homemade scones, make sandwiches and egg and bacon muffins, and make coffees, teas and hot chocolates for friends and family.

"They can make any type of coffee, cappuccinos, lattes, chai tea, macchiatos. They get practice making it, taking orders, delivering orders and getting feedback on their performance," Ms Widdows said.

Brad Hargreaves is the co-ordinator for the Gympie centre and said local businesses had been great with their support.

 

Connor Brownrigg tucks into an egg, bacon and cheese muffin at Maisie's Kafe.
Connor Brownrigg tucks into an egg, bacon and cheese muffin at Maisie's Kafe. Donna Jones

"We cold call businesses in the area because we can only drink so many coffees," he said.

"But we've had a lot of support."

"The students get to know the community and vice versa. People have said they've often looked and wondered what goes on in here. We're demistifyng it for them," Ms Widdows said.

 

Jamal Schimdt delivers a plate of fresh-made scones with jam and cream.
Jamal Schimdt delivers a plate of fresh-made scones with jam and cream. Donna Jones

Before getting their certificate, the students are required to undertake at least 100 hours of vocational training so the Kafe, and their coffee delivery business, which they can do from Tuesday to Thursday, 10am-2pm, goes a long way to improving the students' confidence and communication skills.

During the course, the students learn not only how to prepare and serve food and beverages but also budgeting, financial transaction training, stock rotation and food management and other industry-related skills. They are also teaching the students to use their own initiative.

"They cook for each other and they learn how to accept constructive criticism and this helps to build their confidence. The students are really prospering," Ms Widdows said.

The next step for these young people is to find them workplace placements, where they can get real experience in a real-world situation.

"Our aim is to get them out of their shell and into the real world.

"Everyone of the students has a story, but they get to come here and be part of a family. It's just great," she said.

 

Fresh-made scones with jam and cream.
Fresh-made scones with jam and cream. Donna Jones
Gympie Times


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