Thursday, 24 January 2019

                                                            Until next time Canadia!

Coming to the end of my time in Calgary was bitter sweet. I have made so many new friends, amazing contacts for future adventures and memories to last a lifetime! All the friends I’ve made are all in the industry both front and back of house, it was great having that connection with everyone. The kitchens I have worked in (between the three in the city) all had amazing teams, everyone is extremely motivating and really come together when anyone is in need, it felt exactly like a big crazy family.

"Friendsgiving" in Calgary

I really enjoyed my time in Calgary and would highly recommend going to Canada if not for placement at least for a visit to experience the culture and sights in the mountains. During my time out of the kitchen I did some sightseeing to the major tourist spots such as Banff national park and Lake Louise. Busses from the city on the weekends to Banff were 10 dollars and only takes an hour and a half to get there which was nice to have the option to escape to the mountains from time to time. 

If you can recall in my first blog post I had mentioned that I worked for a festival held in Calgary called Brewery and the Beast. The restaurant who had a tent right beside ours was called Shokunin. If you have watched The Final Table on Netflix you would know that this is the restaurant owned by one of the finalists of the show, Darren MacLean. I was introduced to Darren at the festival and even got the chance to dine in his restaurant before I left Calgary. It was a pretty cool experience to be able to sit at the chefs rail in the restaurant and watch him at work. The food was amazing (along with some surprise courses from the chef, benefit of having contacts 😉 ). The atmosphere in the place was really exciting as they had a full house most nights after the show aired. 

Once the Christmas season rolled in so did freezing temperatures and buckets of snow. It was a sight to see the whole city still being able to function normally in such weather but as I was told by every Calgarian “you aint see real snow yet”! Work got busy and I worked extra shifts in the function kitchen downtown for all the Christmas parties which included copious amounts of canapes and red bull but it was an amazing experience. 

In conclusion, I believe I reached all my aims during my time here. A personal key achievement of mine was successfully surviving in a completely new city/country, new culture which definitely helped me develop as a person, learn more about myself and really helped me improve my confidence. I’ve worked with ingredients and equipment I’ve never worked with before, learned new techniques and skills and feel more confident in the kitchen. I’m so grateful for the team and for having the opportunity to work in the establishments I did. 

See you in Venlo!
Danielle Kehoe

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

The Slieve Donard Family

Hey guys this will be my second blog update of my time at the Slieve Donard. Since my last blog update lots of changes are happening in the hotel. A New Executive Head Chef Kealen McMichael and New General Manager has been appointed at the Hotel, Mr Michael Weston. He had a meeting with all the staff in the hotel to introduce himself, tell us about his background, told us what he expects out of the staff under his management and what expects for the future of Slieve Donard Resort & Spa.
In my last blog I talked briefly about working in the lighthouse lounge. I have been getting a lot of more work shifts in the lighthouse which I do enjoy having the responsibility of working on your own, but it does get lonely at times because it is a separate kitchen on the in the right wing of the hotel. It can be a very busy place must of the time especially because the lighthouse lounge is where most of the spa customers go for there light lunch after or before there treatments and a place for lunch for the guests in the hotel.

The first thing I really noticed when I started working in the Slieve Donard how kind and friendly everyone is. I cannot credit the staff enough in the hotel. They really do go above and beyond for you in here. I would like to give a special mention to Eugene Rooney who is one of the managers here in the Hotel. When I first started here, I has having one of those days like everyone does where everything wasn’t going to plan, and Eugene came over to me to cheer me up and made sure I was ok.  Its just little things like that makes you respect people even more and especially when you take special care of your work colleague. In my eyes the staff need to be priority before the customers. As JW Marriot founder of Marriott Hotels once said, ‘If you take care of your people, your people will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself’. I really do stand by this saying and what its means especially when working in the hospitality industry.

Working with the Hastings Group means that we get an amazing staff discount in any of the Hastings Hotels around Northern Ireland. We have been lucky enough to stay in the Grand Central Hotel in Belfast lately and decided to make the must of it. We went to see a musical in the Grand Opera House and went to one of the must popular pubs in Belfast, The Harp Bar. It really is never a dull moment when Saoirse and Robert are there. They truly are a bundle of joy to be around even though they drive me up the wall half the time!

That’s all for know for my blog post stay tuned for the big conclusion of my journey at the Slieve Donard.

Sending you all Christmas hugs,
Aine x

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

The end of an amazing 4 months in Toronto!

Shannon here, checking in after the amazing 4 months I've spent studying in Toronto. This experience has been a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and I wouldn't change any of it if I had the chance. Since being back home in Ireland, its made me think of how fast the time went by. I've told you about 2 of the 4 months I spent in Toronto and now I'd like to tell you how the last two months went. As our time to returning home home was edging closer and closer, myself and my new friends decided to journey outside of Toronto to Montreal, attended a holiday dinner for all the international students, got a surprise visit from my sister with 5 days to go, journeyed to the top of the CN tower and also the sky-wheel in Niagara falls.

We started off November with a very long car journey to Montreal, our trip didn't start the way we had hoped but with only two days in Montreal we decided to make the most of it. We spent the first day touring the city, looking in local shops and cafes and walking along the waterfront.

 After a long day of sightseeing throughout the city we went to a lookout point where we could see the whole city. Despite it being so cold, it was amazing to be able to see the whole city from one spot.

The next day we spent the day visiting the old Olympic Park which has botanical gardens onsite.

Every year before the holidays the International Center hosts a holiday dinner for all of the International and Exchange students. It's a night to get dressed up and have some fun with the friends you've made along the trip.

With a week to go before my flight home, we had our last few days of classes and exams, also we had the start of our goodbyes to the people we've spent our class-time with and also the lecturers who have taught us over the last 4 months. The lecturers didn't only make it easier to adjust to a different college but they made classes fun and interesting even if we had learned some of the tasks already.

5 days to go and I came home from college to a very nice surprise that Sinead had help organize for me, my sister had flown over to surprise me. It was very unexpected but so nice to see a familiar face from home. With her, I got the chance to see the city again while showing her the sights, you've read about them in my other blogs but the ones I didn't write about was the CN Tower and the Sky-wheel at Niagara Falls. Both sights have amazing views, one of the Toronto city-scape and the other of the Christmas lights and also the lights behind the Falls.

To sum up, the last 4 months have been an experience I will never forget and I urge anyone who has the choice to go to Toronto to do it. Its a very multicultural city with so many amazing tourist activities but also has so many hidden gems around the city also. It was not only Toronto that made me have such an amazing experience but the people I met along the way and also the places we saw. If anyone has any questions or is considering to go to Toronto at any point, feel free to get in touch with me. I look forward to writing about my experience in the Culloden next semester.