Melissa Lacascade is a talented and highly skilled supervisor at Delaware North’s buzzing multi café and bar operation at Wellington Airport; she holds a New Zealand Certificate in Food & Beverage, a National Certificate in Business, and is the recipient of a Future Leader’s Scholarship to complete a New Zealand Diploma in Hospitality.
On a recent trip to the exotic Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2016, she was as much interested in the service as the gourmet fare on offer.
The food was fantastic, but the 10-day adventure across the ditch gave Melissa the chance to compare and contrast the business of great service.
Having grown up in France where waiters are highly-skilled career professionals, she knows exactly what it takes to impress customers. The Aussies did not disappoint.
“Australian service is not casual - it’s polite, friendly and professional,” says Melissa. “It may be just a part-time job while studying for greater things at university, but they are still happy to be there and provide that extra five percent of magic that helps customers relax and enjoy themselves. They have a really positive attitude and there’s no problem that they can’t solve, whereas New Zealanders doing the same job can get defensive.”
Melissa was one the ServiceIQ All Stars team of three to attend the famous festival. Funded by the Hospitality Training Trust (HTT), the purpose of the trip was to give the up-and-coming hospitality professionals the opportunity to gain insights, inspiration, skills and experience at one of the world’s most exciting culinary events.
At the popular Masterclasses, Melissa was lucky enough to get the chance to join her Aussie hospitality counterparts in waiting tables and serving the audience with elaborate dishes created by celebrity chefs from Denmark, Barbados, Hong Kong and Australia.
She also got a feel for making gin with a lot more flavour than the ubiquitous juniper berry, instead she discovered the use of lemons, rosemary, limes and fresh ginger at the extra special masterclass run by top Australian boutique gin brand Four Pillars.
But above all, she said she leapt at the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working at some of Delaware North’s huge food and beverage outlets in Melbourne; including the Botanical Gardens, and Melbourne’s Olympic Park, on the night that Madonna was due to perform.
The sheer scale of the bustling operations showed her how to satisfy customers quickly.
“When you have that many queuing up, it becomes more about being good at serving as many people as possible,” says Melissa.
“It taught me to generally be more assertive, direct and to give staff more feedback on the fly. It’s much better to tackle an issue straight away than the Kiwi she’ll be right attitude.”
After the inspiring journey, she’s back on duty with award winning Delaware North in Wellington, continuing to learn, gain more qualifications on job, and take her career even further.
She’s also busy coaching her team, helping them to increase their expertise and gain national qualifications.
“Melbourne was a fantastic experience,” says Melissa. “I’ve taken every opportunity that Delaware North has given to me over the last four years and that’s got me to where I am today. Now I want to raise my standards for myself and work even harder. And after dining with chefs in Australia, I want to keep up a new routine of trying different types of food.”