A taste of home

Belgian Nicolas Delwaide has completed his post graduate diploma in management here at WelTec and now he has set up his own waffle business

About Nicolas

Name: Nicolas Delwaide
Age: 36
School/institution: Studied Post Graduate Diploma in Management at Weltec
Home city and country: Brussels, Belgium

What was the biggest cultural difference you noticed between your home country and Wellington/New Zealand?

People value a good and healthy work life balance in New Zealand with less stress and worries. That idea that things will improve with time and problems will eventually be solved is translated in the sentence “she’ll be alright”. The first time I heard that I replied “ok, but how? When?.. and who is she?”

While setting up my business, I was also amazed with how easy and straightforward the paperwork process is. Everything is online and I was able to set it up myself.

What is your one top tip for someone coming to study in Wellington?

I would recommend trying to find a part-time job. It’s an excellent way to immerse into the culture and start building a network. Your first employer can be your best reference when applying for your next job.

What were your first impressions of Wellington as a city/region?

Wellington has a vibrant and diverse culture, great food scenery and amazing landscape perfect for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. I will always remember my first day in Wellington, walking along the waterfront on a sunny day. It felt just right and the perfect place to be.

What are the differences between your classes/tutors/lecturers/teacher here in Wellington compared to back home?

It was easier for me to approach teachers and ask them questions directly. This is partly due to the fact that classes have a smaller set up than what I experienced in Belgium.

Have you participated in any Study in Wellington programmes? (For example, Work Ready in Wellington, Alumni Connect…) If so, what were the benefits for you?

I have recently joined the Alumni Connect programme and got in contact to mentor two international students. I’m really happy and excited to share my journey living in New Zealand and setting up a food business with the hope that it will help them both with their experience here.

What have been some of the challenges, highlights moving into your own business?

Because I started La Belle Waffle from scratch, challenges were many. From choosing the operational model, developing a menu, designing the workspace, training staff to building a strong reputation of great customer service and quality product. It's a constant learning and refining process.

Especially for a young business during Covid time, it creates the challenge to adjust and adapt fast to the changes of market and consumer habits.

As for the highlights, first is the positive feedback I received from my customers since opening in October 2019. Word of mouth has been incredible and our best marketing has been done via our customers trying the product and sharing their experience with their friends, families and colleagues.

I’m always excited explaining the differences between our waffles made with a dough, and other batter base waffles. Our Belgian waffles are made the traditional way. Think of it as a sweet bread that is crispy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside and caramelised with melted sugar. There is always a surprise factor when I see someone trying the product for the first time, which is quickly followed by a smile.

Also, I directly think about the support I received from locals and encouragement from other established business owners when the pandemic hit. The hospitality community in Wellington is resilient and I hope that we can come out of these difficult times stronger together.

Where is your favourite place to explore (be outside in nature?)

There are so many beautiful and easily accessible trails around Wellington and it’s hard to choose only one of them. My best picks would be the Skyline Walkway, Makara trail and Butterfly Creek.

What about Wellington reminds you of home?

The creative vibes, the street art, amazing places to eat, local artisan products, numerous festivals, many things to do and see all year long. Wellington is vibrant and there is always something happening.

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