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23 November 2023

Kellyanne recognised for Edinburgh College’s Hub-solutely a-Mezz-ing student-led cafés

When Edinburgh College Bakery and Cookery students voiced that they would prefer a more hands-on approach to their courses, Professional Cookery lecturer Kellyanne Cockburn campaigned to launch a new café within the Mezz space at Milton Road Campus, and later on at Granton Campus.

With a more immersive experience in mind, Kellyanne developed the concept of a student-led café to give her students a real-life space to showcase their bakery skills, whilst also developing their enterprise and business capabilities.

On coming up with the idea, Kellyanne said: “It is important to give the students a realistic working environment to learn and practice their skills. Our industry is busy and often stressful at times, we are always working to deadlines and while we have our college restaurants, some of our classes do not get to experience these and may not aspire to go on and work in restaurants, so the Mezz offers hands on experience in a less formal environment.”

With Kellyanne as their mentor, students have since embraced running the Mezz and Hub Cafés like their own businesses, and are continuing to learn valuable industry lessons, such as community growing, stock rotation, ordering and selling, and customer service, with each passing day.

Level 7 Patisserie & Confectionery student, Mairi Edwards, said: “Having the Mezz be a part of the course is great. I got to learn how to make coffee which I now do as a part of my job. We also got to work on our customer service and confidence which are great skills to have for any jobs. It’s great for us to have somewhere our produce can go so we can get more feedback on what we make, but I also think it brought the class together as a team and let us get to know each other.”

Kellyanne added: “We found that this experience has been really motivating for most students and has helped them with confidence, particularly after the pandemic where we have found that some students now find it very difficult to speak to people. Students are proud to show off the products they have made and often engage in conversation with customers, discussing their courses or how the products were produced.”

Yet, the cafés have also been hugely beneficial to the College itself, as they have created a place where students and staff, can access affordable meals during the ongoing cost of living crisis – with produce made by students on sale for as little as 50p per item.

Plus, the students’ decision that there should be no set menu for the cafés has helped the College to become more sustainable by reducing food waste. The food students create for course assessments is now sold in the cafés, guaranteeing that large quantities of food are not wasted, and students are also encouraged to think more creatively so as to make products using leftovers and other ingredients that may not be used.

As a result of all this positive work, Kellyanne was recently named as a finalist in the Lecturer of the Year category at this year’s CDN awards.

On her shortlisting, Kellyanne said: “While I am proud to have been nominated, none of this would have been possible without the support of my colleague Aisha Elshani who helped to design and set up the project and the backing of Stephanie Tanner and Mandy Purdie who supported us from the beginning. It has now grown into a huge team effort.”

Stephanie Tanner, Head of School for Professional Cookery, said: “We’re so proud of Kellyanne and everything she has achieved this year. The Mezz Café was brought into function to give our Bakery students an outlet for the goods they produce for assessments. Since then, it has grown and grown into something far bigger which enriches our students’ college experience. Across the two cafés, students are learning about commerce, enterprise, daily challenges of business and most importantly – adopting new and existing sustainable practices every day. All of this was made possible by Kellyanne, and we can’t thank her enough.”

So now, students report that they take greater pride in the food they prepare and say they are more inspired to take on the challenge of being innovative with leftover food – all thanks to the Mezz and Hub cafés.