Sunday, 23 December 2018

Farewell Fairmont, Byebye Banff , Ciao Canada

Moon Rising over Mt. Rundle

For those of you who just started following this blog but don’t know me I am Tom.  For the first part of my international year I choose the Fairmont Banff Springs Banff, Alberta, Canada. Like my colleague Derek I am also working as a pastry chef at this property. Banff is a town located in the heart of the Rockies in Banff National Park.

Christmas in the Rockies
It’s hard to believe that my time in Banff is nearly finished. As I said in my first blog the days go slow but the weeks fly by, as it turns out the months went by even quicker. Since I arrived in Banff, I immediately fell in love with the area, living wild in the Rockies couldn’t have been a truer statement. It’s the first time I ever lived in an area where the animals have the right of way, where you can look up all day and see different mountains and where you can have one hundred perfect photo opportunities in one day. With all the beauty of Banff sometimes it feels like you are trapped in a cage where everyone can come and go except you. Banff is described as a town with no soul by the few people who live here. All the tourists come to use the hot springs, to hike, to do winter sports and to visit the castle in the Rockies that is Fairmont.

Working in Fairmont has been an interesting experience. Although I didn’t learn as much as I expected I learnt some skills which will be beneficial for my career. Working the morning shifts helped me to improve my cutting ability and speed. Working the mid shifts allowed me to improve on my time management skills as I was responsible for ensuring that all the functions for the current day and the next were completed and ready. Working on outlets allowed me to produce the desserts for the restaurants and fill the orders for that day. Then section I learnt the most on has to be bake shop. Since my last blog I have only worked on this section. I have learnt a lot about bread that I did not know before. I have made so many different types of bread that I had never made before. Breads that I hadn’t heard of before. For example, for Christmas we are making stolen. Stolen is an enriched dough which has soaked fruit added it is then rolled with a marzipan stick in the centre. As it is proofing it is brushed with butter. Once it is baked it is soaked in more butter and then rolled in sugar. It is a very interesting tasting bread and something which I had not tasted before. I feel that my ability and knowledge of doughs has vastly improved. Working overnights has been hard, getting used to changing your sleep pattern around on a weekly bases as had its ups and downs.

Candy Castle
Christmas in Fairmont is described as a once in a lifetime and for me thank god it is only once in a lifetime. The madness of Christmas in Fairmont started sometime in mid-November where enough Christmas trees arrived to clear a small forest. It continued into the start of December where the Candy Castle was completed (I’m almost certain planning permission had to be taken out). Then all the Christmas party nights started including the staff gala which I will say was a very good night and now as we are only two days out from the biggest day in the hotels calendar, we are preparing for Christmas buffets. These buffets are going to serve approximately 2400 people plus all the restaurants are going to be open as well. There is everything at the buffets from oyster stations, to smore stations to the more classical turkey carving stations. From the bake shop there is every type of bread imaginable being produced. We also have a lot of lamination done to make sweet and savory croissants and danish’s for the buffets.

Sun Setting as Another Day Ends at Fairmont
As my time is basically up working in Fairmont, I have to wonder would I recommend it to future students and I am still not sure. My expectations from my internship were not met. Fairmont is a great company to work for but, I feel as though the quality of fine dining is lost in the mass production of food. I think before making the Fairmont Banff Springs the choice for your  internship you need to figure out what you want to gain from working here. That goes for any choice realistically. The experience of living in the mountains was far greater than I ever imagined. For me I got the experience of traveling to a country that I would have never got to see. I got to try so many different activities, some which worked better than others. Winter sports are not for me I have tried a good few and I am equally as bad at all of them. Watching me ski would defiantly make it onto Americas Funniest Moments. I was terrible. On the plus I tried it and learnt that when Derek says a sport is easy … run as fast as you can.  Since working in Fairmont, I have changed where I want my career to go. I now know that I don’t want to work in a large hotel and I am quite happy working in smaller establishments that are more intense. I would love in the future to perhaps go into some sort of small artisanal bakery to work with the end goal to have my own business. I never looked at bread as a serious business idea before but I can now see plenty of gaps  in the market. So, for now this is the last blog from this side of the Atlantic. Hope you all have an amazing Christmas the next blog will be from Venlo in Holland where my European adventure will begin………
Some of the Pastry Team and Friends Made Along the Way

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