Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Pluses of Big Companies

Like everything else, working in big companies has its pros and cons. In this blog, I will point out the pros of working as part of a relatively big company. As part of the internship program I became part of the Corbin and King group which consisted of one hotel and six other restaurants. 

The first thing that  I, as well as every new member of the company, was invited to join the induction day. This took up two days but don't worry it is paid. The first day was required to meet up at one of their restaurants and this took up the whole day with free lunch. It was a great way to meet new people part of the company and also experience dining at one of their owned restaurants. 
The second day was called 'The Great Expedition' where only members of the hotel were invited to. This also took up the whole day as we were introduced to Health and Safety, Background of the Hotel and the Head of each consisting teams part of the hotel. We also got a tour of the hotel, as well as the surrounding area. This honestly was a great 'working' day as we were just sitting down most of the time in comparison to working in the kitchen where we can barely get time to go to the loo.

Two months into my internship, I was chosen to visit the Severn and Wye Smokery in Gloucester, just outside London. They are one of our producers for smoked salmon. Every month or so, the company chooses one member of each team from the restaurants to participate in going on a field trip to one of the producers. I was lucky enough to be chosen during my stay. I got to meet different chefs from outside the hotel and experience how the smokery was run. 


Marcia Lechoco,
BACA Student

Days off in Edinbugh

So with coming on placement I get two days off a week and can request days off if necessary. Living in Edinburgh has its perks as on those days off you are spoiled for things to do .
For the active people just outside the city centre is Arthur's seat. Its a pretty steep climb, but for those looking for a less active walk there is a shorter climb at the base of the hills through the meadows.  Edinburgh doesn't get much rain and most days are sunny so morning walks are very popular although it does get very cold over here in Winter but not any different from the Irish Winter.
Arthurs Seat Edinburgh
Just outside the city in a small industrial estate is Artisan roast a small Edinburgh coffee roasting company which I went to on one of my days off. It was very interesting to see the roasting process in which coffee went through to give it its lovely flavours and aromas.
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Coffee Roaster in Artisan Roast Edinburgh
As well as seeing the coffee roasting process we also had a Barista class which I found to be very interesting. We not only made coffee but also learned about all the flavour and Aromas that go into making a great coffee, balancing all the key flavours and Aromas is down to the barista from their coffee grind settings to the weight of the coffee they put into a shot and of course the quality of the coffee roast they are using.
Coffee Taste and Aroma Wheel
Pouring the coffees was Alien to me and was more difficult to do than I had thought. My first coffee was pretty crap but as the class proceeded I started to get a little bit better but, I wouldn't say I will be competing in any Barista competitions any time soon!Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, coffee, drink, coffee cup and indoor
Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, coffee, drink, coffee cup and indoor
Barista Training

Edinburgh does not lack in things to do. Whiskey tasting and Gin tasting are also great in the city even though Scottish whiskeys and gins have nothing on the Irish versions. These tours are better if you have the day off after too as you can definitely make a day and night out of it and not worry about the sore head the next morning. 
Whiskey Tasting
These are just a few things I did in Edinburgh as well as plenty of shopping, socialising in the many great pubs and bars and eating out in the excellent and diverse selection of eatery's. I can safely say I was never bored or left idol on my time in this vibrant city. I would recommend anyone to do there placement here!!!!!!

Sarah Kehoe

London Over and Out

On first arriving in London, one of the very first things I noticed was the difference in the manners of the London population versus the Irish. They did not have the care free nature that the stereotypical Irish person would, they seemed to not be as polite or apologetic as they were constantly in a rush, no regard for anyone but their own personal lives, which I soon began to understand why. Living in London you must keep up with the pace or you genuinely can’t endure the hustle of the city, I found this out by becoming annoyed at tourists myself, and having no time for them, concentrating on myself and just focusing on arriving to work on time. This is where using forms of public transport like buses and the underground became very important in my life.

Having an apartment so close to oxford street was a blessing, the only con in my opinion was the fact it made you lazy. This was especially evident when it came to using transport like the buses and the underground, you did not really need it, however buses were so easy to use, and they were right outside my door. I was given an oyster card by my Dad as he said I would need it, and I have to say he was right. It was completely different in Ireland where all you need are coins, it was all just based off this card that you would top up by cash and then tap it on this machine in the bus to allow you to travel. Some of the pros were that they were always on time, they were always double decker meaning more room, cheap and they very frequent stops.

Winter Wonderland, in Hyde Park
On the topic of cheap, that was not the case with our apartment. I was lucky that I did not have to go apartment hunting. There were two girls from my class that had already been living in London and they were looking for an apartment at the time that I would have been moving over. Although this seemed perfect at first, there were quiet a lot of negatives, such as: the apartment was not furnished when we first moved over, constructions in the apartment block had just begun when we first moved in, which I mentioned in pervious blogs (hint, hint). We had no WIFI which was a problem because mobile data is very limited, and there were multiple conflicts with our landlord which did make us want to move out numerous times. The reason for our rent being so expensive was due to the area we were living in, which was close to Oxford street and plenty of local amenities.

Speaking of local amenities and what not, there was a college around the corner there were multiple shops, parks, schools and swimming pools. There was always plenty to do, when we had a day off, we were able to do things like see shows on the west end. I had the chance to see two shows: Dream girls and Mama Mia. Tickets can be very cheap as nearly everything is last minute. Winter Wonderland was in Hyde Park it was something that I really enjoyed and went back to several times. It consisted of carnival games, roller-coasters and the food was extremely diverse, it ranged from duck wraps to churros and of course I was loving life. What Winter Wonderland and this blog have in common, is that all good things must come to an end…

-Hope Cuddihy 

Friday, 12 January 2018

What to Know; Home and away

Many of us moved from family homes to residential housings in college while some traveled from home to college. These are two groups of student with different experiences of college life though they might be studying on the same college and course. Those who moved from family homes to college may have a better understanding on how the whole procedure of moving from home to college works. If you have been travelling to college from home, when your international year starts you might want to research everything about your partner college you're thinking of going too to avoid big surprises. I personal think doing your placement in the same country and town of where you will be doing your academic placement is more convenient. It will half the work load for you in terms of finding accommodation twice and familiarizing yourself with place and people. If you opt for different countries or cities with placements, try and find out more about the college you want to study in along with their terms and conditions of everything they apply too. They say the early bird catches the big worm. In order to get the best of everything it best to inquire about everything earlier. When i inquired about the college accommodation I did it way earlier and filled the online application and forgot to check if it was complete and submitted. I spend two months relaxed thinking I had filled the online application form for accommodation but it was not submitted. At the end I had to settle for any available accommodation near enough to what I was looking for and that is not something I wish upon anyone. Worrying about accommodation may be the last priority but it should be the first and don't forget to double check everything. Just as we took time to choose WIT and research about all the aspects of our course, the inside and outside of the WIT. The same efforts should be made in choosing the partner college.

Sindile Vundla

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Christmas and New Years in Belfast

So the title is pretty self explanatory but basically I spent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Stephens Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day in Belfast. I wasn't overly thrilled about this but eventually I got over it and realised it's part of the job. I had a very hectic few days over this period but I'll start with the lead up to Christmas. On my rare day off I did a bit of retail therapy and some searching through the Christmas markets. Foodies were in there element as at least every second stall was food related. Between unusual cakes and meringues, Bailey's hot chocolates to cuisines from all around the world. Even on my splits I loved to just run in for a look. That part of being up in the north for Christmas wasn't so bad. We had a special Christmas menu for the lead up to Christmas which was 45 pound a head for adults for 3 courses and 30 pound a head for children. We also had Santa Sunday which was a buffet held every Sunday at the same price, the only difference was children got a small present from Santa. I really enjoyed working on that menu on the lead up to Christmas. It was much more beneficial learning as opposed to Christmas as we had a buffet for 3 hours on Christmas day that people paid 100 pound a head for! I was on starters and desserts. I was trusted to come up with my own plating style, I just had to make sure once I came up with it every plate went out the same. I really enjoyed having the responsibility. Then I was informed I was the only member of permanent staff (at least til February) who'd be working Christmas day. Not to mention not even double pay! There was nothing I could do about it so had to suck it up and at least think of the learning experience. Christmas eve was very busy over 300 covers. Wasn't overly difficult though as it fell on a Sunday so we did our usual Santa Sunday. Just had to keep replenishing all the food as it was being demolished!. Christmas day should've been an easy day......but Murphy's law came into play for me, 'Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong'. So I start preping for Stephens Day as we had at least 170 booked for lunch and it was an A La Carte menu. The chef started shouting at me as he was getting very stressed so I start to chop faster and ended up cutting my finger quite badly. ON CHRISTMAS DAY!!! I ended up a few hours later in A&E and got stitches in my finger, which I have to get removed in 2 weeks from now. I certainly won't forget that Christmas. Stephens day was mental, but we got by, even with my gammy finger! Then New Years eve was a buffet so all was ok and New Years Day was dead. Probably because they all had sore heads and didn't stir from the house. So a very eventful Christmas in Belfast but delighted to have had the experience. By Beth Murphy

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Packing up and moving home

After finishing my 4 months of placement it was time for me to leave Edinburgh and return home just in time for Christmas. Living in Edinburgh for the past few months has been a great experience, from working in a Brasserie and living the city life I have learnt so much and I have grown as a person and a chef.

Throughout my time in Dine I got to experience working on every section in the kitchen, from this I was able to learn new skills and also helped me to decide the direction I see my career going. I have not only learnt so much from the chefs and staff at dine but I have also made great friends in my time over there. working in a busy kitchen for 14 odd hours 5 days  a week is tiring but also thrilling, being able to enter a kitchen every morning and leaving every night smiling and laughing along with the chefs and knowing that going home you have learnt something new is a great feeling.

The images shown throughout this blog are dishes I helped the chefs to create and design. Working in a small kitchen (4-5 chefs) means that everyone is very close and has to work together in order for a service to run smoothly, everyone's opinion is appreciated and is taken into consideration. Working along side Stuart Muir (head chef and former Michelin star chef) taught me so much about being a chef and about the industry. Stuart is the owner of Dine and he works to only serve fresh, local in produce ingredients which made menu planning a challenge. Every month - six weeks the entire menu would have to be changed/ updated to include new seasonal produce to enhance the menus.

Over the Christmas period the menus would be cut down to allow the chefs to deal with the extreme number of covers during the shift. Groups of 8 or more could not order from the A lá Carte menu as this would be too time consuming and would not allow for a quick turnover on tables. This made it easier for chefs to deal with many large groups ordering at once over the busy period.

Overall the past few months have been a wonderful experience, I will be returning to Dine over the summer to work for Stuart once again and to further my experience in his restaurant. Although I was excited to be moving home for Christmas I was also reluctant to leave the team at Dine and also to be leaving Edinburgh. I look forward to my return during the summer, But more importantly I'm looking forward to Miami in march to study in Johnson and Wales University!!

Emma O'Neill

The Truth About Night Shifts

When I first moved over I was told that I would be doing night shifts for just the first month, and I would be moved to the 'day time' after this, but as the month came to a close, I came to the realisation that I would be continuing the night shifts for the duration of my time in London which was 5 months. when I first started the shifts I used to work from 7:00pm till 6:30am, with the volume of products that we produced such as croissant, pain aux raisin, pain a chocolate, caneles, doughnuts, pecan twists, cinnamon brioche buns ect. With all of this we also had to start doing service which became harder when we had less people on, with the service we had to make special requests on the spot such as: candy floss

which would always come at the same time that we would have to do our first turn for our croissant. Service was one of the easier parts of our night but it did also have its challenges. Service could be from 6:00pm till 12:00am which did mean that one or two people, depending on the night had to spend the night downstairs trying to finish the tourier work.

special request we were asked to do
Trying to adjust to this new sleeping pattern was difficult, although I would consider myself a 'night owl' this was still a challenging task for me because of obstacles such as: construction work that
went on in the building that would begin as early as 8:00am till 6:00pm, finishing work later than usual, spending my days off trying to catch up on sleep and also trying to explore London, but I will keep that for my next blog. although there seems to be a lot of cons with doing night shifts it had so many positives,

because when you work the nights you have a little bit more freedom to experiment with new ideas for pastries, this allowed me to work on bi-colour croissants which I was very interested in,

mini bi-colour croissants
getting to work with a chocolatier helped me to improve my chocolate skills, candy floss also became a big wow factor for the hotel, it was something that many customers started wanting more of, so having time to be able to work on how to master this will be useful later on for me if I ever go into a profession which does sugar work. When you work nights you realise people are a lot calmer, it's a different type of athmosphere than it is during the day, this was adequate seeing as most people did seem to be tired as the nights would go on. Night shifts were an incredible experience that I could never forget, but trust me I would never want to do it again as I do like to sleep!

-Hope Cuddihy