BROOKLYN, N.Y. - It can feel impossible to get a reservation at Lilia, the acclaimed Williamsburg Italian restaurant run by chef Missy Robbins. But some city high school students have done better than snagging a table — they've got a spot in the kitchen.
"Missy is like a Michelin-starred chef, so the pressure is up there. But the opportunity to come in here and experience everything, it's just amazing," said Niyah Rivers, a high schooler.
The students, from the Food and Finance High School in Manhattan, will be taking over the restaurant's attached cafe for a day — a partnership between the restaurant and the Food Education Fund, a non-profit that helps provide the school's students with learning opportunities outside the classroom.
"They came in and kind of worked with the Lilia team and designed their menus and got to try all the different items that they served here at Lilia, started to kind of develop their palette," said Katherine Taveras, program manager for the Food Education Fund.
From there, the students baked up new menu items to serve at the cafe and then narrowed it down to three.
"Everyone has different types of perspectives on what it should be, what they want it to be, and what they want the whole cafe to be like in their own opinion, but I feel like out of that we were able to combine every single person's ideas into this you know beautiful mess and that mess has just formed into something greater, bigger than ourselves," said Romeo Malpica, a student.
They spent Monday preparing for the big day, measuring out batter for rosemary and corn muffins, shaping chocolate chip scones, and finishing up components for a berry parfait.
"You know when you get the butterflies but it's the good butterflies? We're going to have a lot of people come in here," Niyah said.
But the student chefs had faith their menu would appeal to customers.
"They should probably order the scones, chocolate chip scones because I honestly think they're the best thing," Romeo said.
"My favorite dish, it would have to be the parfaits. With Lilia's yogurt and our coulis and granola it really comes together and balances out and it's really refreshing and nice," Niyah said.
If you want to try the menu devised by the students, which includes this parfait, you can drop by Caffe Lilia on Tuesday from 7 a.m. until around noon.