By Diyanah Kamarudin | Image by Weave for Yale-NUS College
With a fully residential, four-year programme, Yale-NUS College’s campus is filled with spaces meant for social interaction and community bonding.
Some of the popular hangout spots include the butteries — three student-run cafés that serve snacks and meals to famished students during suppertime. Located in Saga, Elm, and Cendana College, the butteries are named the Shiok Shack, Thirty Plates and The Nest respectively.
During term time, a team of Buttery Managers and Cooks runs each buttery, and the entire team is involved in shaping the menu of the buttery. The butteries also rope in student designers to explore new ideas in conceptualising the theme of each student eatery.
While classic suppertime favourites such as burgers and instant noodles are featured, each buttery is also known for its own signature dish.
At the Shiok Shack, for example, students frequently order the ‘Adlin’. Inspired by one of the buttery’s frequent patrons, Adlin Zainal (Class of 2017), the dish consists of instant noodles accompanied by a runny sunny side up egg and a succulent burger patty — and only sets a student back by S$2.50.
In order to avoid direct competition with each other, the butteries work together to ensure that they open on different nights. However, they also try to differentiate themselves from one another in certain aspects.
Holly Apsley (Class of 2018), a Cook at Thirty Plates, notes that her buttery is “particularly affordable and fast”.
Meanwhile, the Shiok Shack’s Buttery Manager Jason Carlo Carraneja (Class of 2018) says that the Saga buttery capitalises on branding, since it carries on the name of what used to be the first and only buttery on campus.
“We want to be a window to what life was like in the formative years of the college,” Jason explained.
Running a buttery, however, is not without its own set of challenges.
Puvan Raj (Class of 2018), Buttery Manager at The Nest, shared that one of the biggest problems the Cendana buttery faced was a logistical one: after enjoying their satisfying supper, students sometimes forgot to return the cutlery and dishware to the buttery.
Holly added that the team also had to be strategic in deciding what to spend on.
“We’ve had to be creative in our use of the budget in order to cover both ingredients and things like furniture,” she mentioned.
For Jason, on the other hand, a shortage of staff members became a problem in the middle of last semester, when some staff needed to reduce their working hours due to time contraints from school priorities.
“We understand the needs of our staff, but we also want to ensure that we are still ready to serve the community,” he said. To Jason, working at the buttery is not only a part-time job, but also a commitment to “truly show how we care about the Yale-NUS community.”
Students are hopeful that the buttery spaces will be an integral part of student life as the College grows.
Puvan envisions The Nest to be utilised more often as a social space in the near future.
“Ideally, [The Nest] can be a place for students to watch certain sporting events that take place every Saturday and Sunday night. If possible I would like to have us open on more days too,” he said.
Holly, on the other hand, is most excited about adding more food and drink items to the menu for the coming academic year.
She added that Thirty Plates will also feature new decorations and seating arrangements when it re-opens in August this year.
Yale-NUS’ butteries were inspired by the butteries of Yale University, which are also student-run and found in each of the university’s 12 residential colleges.