Cool-headed catering manager Bridgit-Lee Morgan loves the fast-paced nature of her job, but not as much as she loves having a strong team around her. Bridgit knows when the pressure’s on, she can always turn to her work whānau for support — and a laugh.  

For someone who loves whānau and socialising as much as Bridgit-Lee Morgan, working in hospitality is the perfect career. 

“My workmates are like family — we spend so much time together at work and outside of work. Most of the time, there’s just a lot of talking about the jobs we do, our families, and things we’re getting up to. Always having somebody to talk to is the best part about it.” 

Bridgit, 26, gained her L4 Certificate in Food and Beverage from Manukau Institute of Technology through an MPTT Auckland scholarship in 2017, and has been working for Baildon Hospitality for about three years. 

She’s quickly worked her way up the ranks, including time as a chef de partie, to take on a leadership position as catering manager at Baildon’s Fletcher Building Café in Penrose. 

Her job can be high-pressure but it’s definitely never boring.

“I’d done other jobs before I came into hospitality and, in most of those jobs, it was just me — there was no team. Whereas now, I do have a team and I’ve got back-up. 

“It’s awesome because no matter what I’m doing or how much pressure I’m under, I’ve always got a helping hand somewhere.”

An early taste for catering

Studying hospitality was a natural fit for Bridgit (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tūwharetoa), who grew up catering with whānau for large groups — celebrations, birthdays, tangi — at Hia Kaitupeka Marae and Kaurirki Marae in Taumarunui. 

“Because of my experience on maraes, that sort of thing was common sense to me. I didn’t realise how much I already knew. It was cool to realise I could make good money out of it, rather than just being told what to do by my family!”

Bridgit is still close with her family — she lives with her siblings and parents in their family home in South Auckland. Her sister has a house just down the road as well.

“I’m constantly back and forth between houses!”

A full plate

As catering manager, Bridgit is responsible for making sure food and beverages are provided for five to 10 functions every day. Functions range in size from 10 to 200 people, and even up to several thousand people occasionally. 

“I’ve been told that I’m calm under pressure,” says Bridgit. “We have catering requests pop up without much notice and I have to make 100 of this or 100 of that and I’m like, ‘Yep, it’s all good — I’ll get it done within the hour’.”

Handling multiple catering orders at a time can be stressful, but Bridgit prides herself on staying calm and keeping a smile on.

Brian Sewell, managing director of Baildon Hospitality, says Bridgit’s role requires excellent organisational skills. 

“Bridgit’s main traits are her reliability and time management. She’s someone we really rely on and we know she’s always there to do the job.”

“On an average day, emails come in requesting catering, so Bridgit picks up on those emails and coordinates them. Then she works alongside the chefs on the hot line, as well as doing her own food preparation and assembly for it, and then she arranges for all this to be delivered.”

Hungry to learn

Brian says Bridgit has leapt at every opportunity to develop her catering and leadership skills.   

“She’s taken not just to the professional training, but also to developing within herself. When we lost our catering manager at the end of last year, we gave Bridgit the opportunity to step into that role, and she’s really grasped it.” 

Bridgit says taking on a leadership role has meant growing her overall level of professionalism. 

“I used to be a bit casual in my approach, but I’ve got better at my communication and just being more professional all round.” 

Her goals for the future include doing an apprenticeship at some stage, and possibly starting her own catering business. 

“I’ve had so many people I know hitting me up asking if i can cater events for them, so I’m just trying to work out how to do that outside of my normal work hours.”

Food for thought

Brian says for anyone who’s reliable, organised and likes serving others, there’s no shortage of jobs in the hospitality sector. 

It’s a great career option with plenty of chances to climb the ladder, he says. 

“There’s a real misconception that catering, and hospitality in general, is kind of a stop-gap. People think it’s something you go into while deciding what to do. But it’s more than that — it’s a lifelong occupation.

“For someone like Bridgit — and actually, all of our senior management are Māori — this is actually a career for them. That’s something we love to promote.” 

Bridgit hopes that sharing her story will inspire hospitality trainees to believe in themselves, finish their studies and push on for success. 

Find out more about a career in hospitality, where and how to train, and whether you might be eligible for an MPTT scholarship at www.maoripasifikatrades.co.nz/hospitality

Also, read our story about Bridgit from 2016, when she travelled to Fiji with other MPTT Auckland trainees to help build cyclone-resistant homes for low-income families — www.maoripasifikatrades.co.nz/hospo-skills-honed-on-the-marae/