Sunday, 5 December 2021

                          Noma - Part 3 
As I am at the end of my time here in Copenhagen I have been reflecting quite a lot on everything that has happened and everything that I have experienced with my friends and colleagues. It has been quite the emotional rollercoaster to be quite frank, saying goodbye to old friends and hello to newer ones. One thing that is for certain, is that I have loved every single second of this experience and never want it to end! 

With Dani and I being now the longest servings interns at Noma we are held slightly responsible for teaching and training the new batches of interns into how we operate at Noma, by showing how to clean ants, to plating dishes, all the way to showing some how to weigh out ingredients. It gives what we do much more meaning, by discussing where we’ve come from personally, getting to know a person and then bringing what you’ve understood into your teaching techniques by either being more compassionate or giving them a push. I have been put on another section since my last blog post with me now being on Section 2 with some amazing chefs, Nacho Domenech, Alvaro Sanchez and Mega Paitung. The dishes that are on this section is the Reindeer Penis salad, a dish of Plum with pollen, elderflower, quince and parsley, a pumpkin, strawberry and cabbage dish, and lastly the oregano and mushroom dish. It is quite a hectic section with us going flat to the floor from 8am to 10pm, however it is such great learning of efficiency and organisation. For example, last Saturday we started at 7am to clean Reindeer Moss and did not finish until half eleven. The work ethic that is instilled into you over here is simply astonishing and makes me excited for what’s next. 

With Copenhagen falling deeper and deeper into Winter and colder times, the ingredients we see change almost every week, for example instead of plums we use roast quince, more reliance on ferments and pickles, also the buying in of bulk ingredients such as pine for oils and vinegars. Compared to the Summer season it is a whole other world. During my time here, the projects have begun again. This is when the chefs are split into teams to create new dishes based on advice from the Test Kitchen, I really can’t say what they’re testing but it already looks incredible! There has been such a dramatic change in the social scene here in Copenhagen with more people meeting at each others houses or cosy cafes for a lovely hot meal or coffee rather than going to a bar or to a park. When I visited Hart only a few days ago it was an amazing view, seeing people wrapped up in blankets drinking tea or coffee chatting and just enjoying the vibes of Copenhagen in Winter. Since the 12th of November Christmas markets have been put up where you can buy delicious sugared almonds, mulled wine, beer (of course) and plenty of tasty food cooked over open fire. According to my room mates there’s a tradition of drinking mulled wine or hot chocolate and whiskey together whilst walking the Wintry streets of the city and taking in the sights. The fashion here is also quite amazing with people really embracing the cold by wearing massive coats, designer hats and honestly whatever goes and is counted as fashionable. 

Noma has been a life changing experience in more than one way. I’ve learned so much about organisation, leadership, skill, hard work, drive, compassion and passion. I really believe since I arrived in Copenhagen I’ve been lucky enough to grow as a chef and as a person. Words don’t come close to describing what it means to me to have done this experience, met the people I’ve grown and worked with, and all the memories that have been made. Just pure gratitude. I really must say I’ve had the time of my life over here and I’m very excited and driven to get back here in the future for a trial in Noma or elsewhere. 

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Barcelona...over and out.

Barcelona – over and out Hola amigos! Last blog from the beautiful Barcelona :(. I have to say, it’s been a wonderful time. Earlier, in my other blog post, I spoke a lot about the college, the modules and the student life as such. But, as you probably can imagine, life here has consisted of a liiiiiitle bit more than just that. Let’s talk about all the possibilities that this wonderful city offers on a daily basis! As as chef, I am highly inclined and driven towards the foodie part of Barcelona. I actually was born in Spain! So I knew what the Spanish gastronomy had to offer before coming here…and wow…this surpassed my expectations. I want to talk to you about my favourite activity and pastime, and something that I greatly enjoy and makes me very happy…the markets.
The markets here are unbelievable…really. They’re MASSIVE! The produce is surreal and so great and the people are just lovely and so eager to speak to you, answer any questions and, if you show a lot of interest…they might even give you a good deal . My favourite market here is the Mercado de la Boqueria. It’s one of the main tourist attractions in the whole of Barcelona AND is known worldwide. See, I wasn’t joking when I said it was amazing. If you want to deep dive into the culture of Spain…please, come to la Boqueria. The ambiance in the market is one of my favourite things. People everywhere, sellers talking to everyone, the smells…oh the smells of every single food item that you can imagine, mouth-watering essences that don’t cease until you walk out. Truly, a gastronomic experience. Inside, it’s very organised, into sections. You have fruit, vegetables, nuts, sweets, chocolates, etc., all located on the outer part pf the market. But, as you adventure in, you will find the meat and subsequently, the fish sections.
The meat. All I’m going to mention is…CHARCUTERIE. Spanish gastronomy is great for a lot of things but, what I admire the most is the charcuterie. The knowledge behind this culinary skill is unbelievable. I have many times, walked in with my chefs book and came out with pages and pages written of recipes, secrets, and flavour connotations that only the charcutier masters know!!! We all know Jamon Serrano…well, there’s much more, believe me. The fish. If you’re a fish lover like myself, please, come to la Boqueria. Immense fresh produce, all at your fingertips. Every single species and type of fish, shellfish and crustacean…is there. The smell mightn’t be very delightful if you don’t like fish so…beware. All in all, Barcelona is an amazing place to visit, NOT JUST FOR CHEFS!!!! I myself have been able to enjoy the richness of the city, something that I will bring with me for the rest of my life. Are you down for the adventure? Thanks for reading!!! That’s a wrap! Over and out, Barcelona. - Gracia

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Farewell Belfast

Hi, Leeann here from the Culloden estate and spa Belfast. Can’t believe this will be my last blog. The four and half months has flown by so quickly. Its been madness since I done my last blog as Christmas is upon us. The head chef trained me on procure wizard before he went on holidays, so I could do orders for the whole week he was gone. It was great experience learning different things then just cooking as one day I might be a head chef and I need to know how to order and find the best price with different suppliers.
We started prepping for a new menu on Monday as we were launching our new menus on Saturday. There was two menus festive menu and a la carte menu. The team and I were very excited our menu on Thursday been printed as there was a lot of work gone into the menus since September. The menus were a great success with the customers, we done about 800 covers for the weekend and we got great feedback from the customers.
Every year the Culloden switch on their Christmas lights. All the locals and guests come down to the Cultra inn and got refreshments such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate, homemade shortbread and mince pies. it was a special night for everyone as it was start of Christmas and everyone was enjoying the night with family and friends. Santa came to visit the children in Cultra inn all day Sunday and will do so for the whole of December on Sundays.
I have really enjoyed my stay at the Culloden estate and learnt a lot about myself from what I am capable of and how I can learn more from my mistakes. I have made great friends for life in Belfast. On my last night which was Sunday myself and a few friends went to union street in Belfast city for drinks and then to the gremlin nightclub. Because of Covid my experience has been different we had a lot of staff problems which meant staff were under a lot of stress. Everyday was uncertain as you didn’t know how many staff you would have daily. Stock was difficult to get which was slower coming in due to Brexit. I have learnt to have more confidence in my own capabilities. It took me a while to settle in Belfast, but I’m delighted that I chose Belfast for my work experience as I was able to travel home when I was off I had the best of both worlds and have made life long friends.

Sunday, 28 November 2021

La Vie à Lyon

Hi all, Erika here. Life in Lyon has been an almost completely positive experience. While Lyon is the third biggest city in France, it is incredibly easy to navigate, while still offering so much on every street. Finding your footing couldn’t be easier with the two major rivers here, since finding one of those when lost gets you back on track quickly. The busses and metros here help big time as well, when you have a general idea of the city, finding your stop is simple. I got here a week before lectures started to get a feel for the city, and have a little time before classes started. This ended up being a great idea, since I found out the day before I arrived that my orientation for Institut Paul Bocuse started the day after I got here. This ended up being a much better way to get my bearings, since I met a lot of other new students, and was given information from the teachers at the school. The school itself is great. I paid for my meals before I left, and got a badge that I can scan at the café and restaurants on campus and the money is taken out directly from there, so there’s no fear of going hungry if you forget your money. Lunch and dinner on campus is usually a 3 course meal, so the only time I need to do grocery shopping is on the weekends, unless I’m going to one of the many restaurants here. The classes are long, and they’re almost always doubles, which ends up being 3 hours in total. The days are broken up well though, with a 15 minute break every hour and a half, and about 2 hours for lunch. My apartment is a 10 minute bus trip from campus, and the busses go every 10 minutes usually, so it’s a handy commute in and back every day. The social life here is great, there are loads of bars in the city to suit everyone, heaps of restaurants, school-organised events, and there are regular house parties too with the other students. The cinemas here generally offer films in English, where I unfortunately sat through ‘Dune’, but the pints after made up for it. During the day I’ve tried to get to a good few patisseries, and on free days I’ve managed to get out to a couple of the surrounding towns, which are beautiful. Annecy is a must visit for anyone. Time’s been flying and there’s not much more to go, but definitely plenty more to report before I go. -Erika.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Farewell Coleraine

Hi everyone, Lauren here signing in from rainy Coleraine for the last time. I can’t believe I am nearing the end of time here at University of Ulster. To start off I can’t say how much I recommend coming here if there is anyone reading this who is considering it. It is especially great if you have never lived away from home before like me. It still feels like home and the transition has been very easy and has taught me a lot for when I move further away for work next semester in January. The modules I took were very interesting and have given me an insight into a different aspect of the food industry. For example, I got to develop a healthy children’s snack product that uses other brands waste products in the ingredients. I loved this brief because food waste is such a big issue so it’s great that we could come up with some creative ways to use things that otherwise would have ended up in the bin. We had to do research into the children’s snack market and the plant base market as well as deciding how we would package and market it to appeal to both children and their parents. On Monday we are pitching our product idea to a panel who might take on our product and further develop it if they are interested. I am nervous but excited to see if they will take on our idea. Wish me luck please. We also got to work with the brand chef in a box doing product development for them as well. They came with the idea of 7 ready meals which they are marketing to elderly people. They had trialled some recipes and wanted us to further improve the appearance and taste of the meals. The main head of the project Niamh was coming from a food science degree rather than a culinary background so was very grateful for any tips we could share. All the lecturers here are so lovely and helpful you will never be stuck. Coleraine is a lovely place to spend your 3 months away. I think I would definitely come back. Its started to feel like home especially now with all the Christmas lights and decorations up around the town there is a lovely even friendlier feel to the town. Overall my experience here has been a 10/10. Until next time Lauren
Getting started in Barcelona Hi Ryan here with my second blog post, this is just a short reflextion on the begining of my Barcelona adventure, hope you enjoy! On September 6th, after a few months of hard effort during the summer, I finally began on my next journey. Of course, moving from Arklow to Waterford was nerve-wracking because it was the furthest I had ever been from home, and it took an hour and a half. I was now being thrown into the deep end, relocating to a completely foreign nation where I had no real understanding of the language or the locations; I would begin my journey to the airport early in the morning, say a brief emotional goodbye for the time being, and board my flight to Barcelona. My first idea about Barcelona was how I would endure in this heat for six months, but it was only a temporary concern since after a few weeks there, you grow used to it. Obviously, not understanding the geography of Barcelona threw me off a little when we arrived at our destination. Because I didn't fully comprehend the arrangement, employing the trains would be futile until I gained a fundamental knowledge. The first time I went to the flat, I had to take a taxi, which cost me 70 euros. Learning the train timetable became a must because I couldn't afford to spend 70 euros every time I needed a transport home from the city centre. Badia del Valles, a medium-sized town located north of Barcelona, just over a range of mountains, is where we settled. I had my doubts about the area's safety at first, but I was simply being prejudiced. I started to feel at ease after a few days. The area's atmosphere was quite laid-back, and everyone stayed to themselves, but they weren't unpleasant about it; they were simply ordinary folks living an ordinary life. It is absolutely no easy task moving from Ireland to the outer parts of Barcelona, but it is important to keep in mind everywhere has its good and bad you cannot really ever know what to expect. Taking a risk is part of growing as a person and that was one of the main positives I took from the situation.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Noma - Part 2
It seems pretty crazy how I am now past half way through this amazing internship, this past month or so has been physically draining but mentally sharpening. This past month has seen us switch from the Summer menu to the Game and Forest menu in what feels like no time at all. 
As I write this we have just finished the first and second hardest weeks of every new season. Now is when we start to develop a routine, which allows better proficiency across the board meaning we can start later and finish earlier. To be honest, passion for this job and lifestyle only grows stronger each day I go to work with the best people to ever do it such as Kenneth Foong, Pablo Soto, fellow Irish man Eoghan Coady, Rebecca Raben, Mirek Anderson and so many more. The drive these people possess is so infectious and makes you want to work non stop to learn as much as possible. Recently I’ve been lucky enough to have been given more responsibility on the section I’m on by making broths, caramels, fudges, garnishes, and also by teaching other interns on how we work at Noma. The section I am on is a mix of both hot and cold dishes, with Yellow Beet Sashimi, Pickled, Smoked and Powdered Quail Egg and Kelp, Mushroom and Truffle Broth with Sumac and lastly Bear Aebleskiver. The amount of work that goes into each dish is astounding and shows why there is such a need for the amount of chefs present at Noma. As an example, the Yellow Beet dish consists of plums, vegetable fudge, bee pollen, ant paste, berry praline, yellow beets, rose oil, yellow beet and Lacto rice water sauce, morita chilli oil, and whiskey vinegar. While in the service kitchen I also have the chance to help on pastry and Section 2 plating the SCOBY dessert consisting of Buttermilk ice cream, Cuban oregano, green tea SCOBY, and blackcurrant wood oil. Also the tongue / penis salad and the saffron and Mexican chocolate dessert.

 In other amazing news, since the beginning of the internship, Noma has won 3 Michelin Stars to match Geranium as the only 3 starred restaurants in Copenhagen, and also won the 50 Best, best restaurant in the world. To experience both of these firsthand was just such a blessing seeing how much it means to everyone who has worked so hard for so many years to regain the number 1 spot once again! There was tears, hugs, screaming, clapping, champagne, burgers, cookies, cake and so much more in the days that followed even now guests congratulate us profusely. Since the announcements there has been a whole mood change that has just re-energised the whole place, it is truly electric! Social Life With the weather really starting to get cold here now in Copenhagen the night life and social life has taken a real shift from what it was in the Summer. As an example on Sunday mornings, there is far more people meeting up inside cafes or sitting outside with a blanket and a coffee, and in the evenings there is more gathering inside restaurants rather than at outside food markets. The actual food scene here has also changed seamlessly into the Fall season with lots more wholesome broths, breads, and drinks. Every venture outside the house is another learning opportunity! As a group we have actually started eating out at really beautiful places such as Barabba and Lille, a bakery situated near the restaurant, Alchemist. The level of food here is simply breath taking, there’s a sandwich myself and my American friend John absolutely adore, it is literally just a bun, cheese and butter but mother of God does it hit the spot. And in a city where everything is very pricy a sandwich costing 25 Krone is never a bad idea! Figure 1The Family Here is a picture of some of the people I’m very lucky to call good friends, they come from all over the world, Portugal, Brazil, Canada, America, The Philippines , The Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Germany, Italy and far more. Getting to know these people has been such a highlight of my time here inside and outside the kitchen it’s nothing but great craic. Bring on the next 2 months!