Pressure test for Paula as crowds seek out cafe

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 12:30 27/07/2013
Paula Saengthian-Ngam
STAR PRIZE: MasterChef New Zealand contestant Paula Saengthian-Ngam will offer her services for a charity fundraiser later this month.

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MasterChef New Zealand runner-up Paula Saengthian-Ngam hasn't been this run off her feet since her time on the show.

Her new Nelson cafe, Paula's Plate, opened in Hardy St on Wednesday.

It seats 30, but more than 150 people showed up on the first day to have a coffee, sample treats and satisfy their curiosity.

The crowds meant Mrs Saengthian-Ngam and her sister Jo Kilkelly were stressed, but she said getting everybody seated was the main challenge.

"I've been asking people if they have a seat [when they order at the counter] because I don't want them having to eat standing up. People have been staying a long time, which I guess means most of them are enjoying the vibe."

As neither she nor her sister had prior professional experience in the kitchen, Mrs Saengthian-Ngam wanted to make sure customers knew the pair were "doing their best" to deliver a good experience, and would continue to improve with time.

Paula's Plate had to open late on Friday morning so that the sisters could restock all the food. Mrs Saengthian-Ngam said the bestsellers were her salmon cakes, a gluten-free orange and almond cake and the griddle cakes.

She praised pastry chef Sal Pong, barista Annelise Wanstall and front of house worker Kiani Masters for the way they worked together to make sure every customer came away satisfied.

"MasterChef was a walk in the park compared to this."

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- The Nelson Mail

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