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Ambitions: to serve great food!

Ambitions: to serve great food!

UCOL’s training restaurant Ambitions opens next week, with a new feature – cocktails au gueridon.

That means students not only prepare the food and provide front-of-house food and beverage service but also create cocktails (and non-alcoholic mocktails) – including their own designs – in front of customers at their tables.

Hospitality lecturer Sharon Mann says the gueridon style of cocktail making has been introduced as a fresh challenge for the students.

Ambitions Restaurant in Queen Street opened 12 years ago as a training restaurant for students studying for UCOL’s Certificate in Hospitality and Catering. It is open to the public, with the aim of allowing people to enjoy a unique dining experience while also taking part in the training of future cookery and hospitality professionals.

Sharon says Ambitions operates to professional standards, to give students an understanding of what will be required of them when they graduate into the industry. She says they quickly learn to work together and there are none of the stormy scenes made famous in television programmes like Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Disasters.

“It usually all runs smoothly and according to plan,” she says. “The students realise that team work is a huge part of success in the hospitality industry. They quickly get a sense of ownership and want the restaurant to succeed and the customers to be satisfied.”

Judging by the 2008 Ambitions Lunch Menu, now available on the UCOL web site, satisfaction is on the cards. Apart from soup de jour, tempura-coated fish, salmon nicoise and an innovative pasta dish, there is exotic Dukkah Dusted Lamb Cutlets: “Panfried and served upon a mescun tabouleh salad with deep-fried falafel lavishly drizzled in a lime tzatziki.”

Desert includes Moroccan Honey and Mint Cake.

Ambitions also operates under the highest hygiene standards and has an A rating from the Palmerston North City Council for its safe food practices. Food hygiene is one of the first subjects taught to our students when they begin their training.

Ambitions restaurant is open for lunch from 11 March to 13 March and 1 to 17 April on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11.45 am to 1.15pm. It will open for dinner from 6 May to 12 June, also on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. It is fully licensed, prices are very reasonable and bookings are essential. Go to


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