Tuesday, 28 April 2020

First Christmas away from home!

Tis’ the season to be jolly or exhausted! I myself was working for most of the month, but hey that’s what it is all about. Obviously it was my first Christmas there and colleagues kept telling me how busy it will be but I didn’t really believe them because some may have been exaggerating but they were right it was mental. So it all kicks off around November where the busy lunch period kicks in where we are doing 250 covers every day and Friday going up to about 280.

Just at the start of January I came home for a few days to surprise my mother with my girlfriend as she thought she wouldn’t see me before Christmas so that was really nice, the flights were also so cheap at the time that we couldn’t resist. My dad also flew over from America to see me just before Christmas and I swapped my days off with someone so I could spend a long weekend with him, so considering the chaos I was very lucky to see everyone. While my dad was visiting we took a trip in a black cab around to see all the lights in London during the festive period it was really interesting and beautiful.

So no doubt the Christmas period was hectic so we were all glad to see Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve we were open just from 12:00-2:30 for 250
guests. On the morning every year it is tradition in Scott’s they have a big breakfast buffet for all staff and a raffle. The breakfast is cooked by one of the sous chefs and has everything you could think of from sausages and bacon to eggs three ways and to lots of tasty pastries from the pastry section, egg nog and champagne, it’s really nice. The raffle consists of alcohol, vouchers and prizes from various nearby businesses in Mayfair, I actually won a 150 pound voucher to Scott’s so I brought my mother just after Christmas where we were extremely well looked after.

For Christmas day we ordered all our food through work as we get it cheap. We had 6 people for dinner 3 Italians and 3 Irish. With Scott’s being a fish restaurant we got 4 lobsters, 20 scallops, ½ box of tiger prawns, 20 langoustines…. That was just our starter; we did like a shelled shellfish starter with garlic butter and sauce Americaine.

We had turkey, ham, spiced beef for our main with all the trimmings. Conveniently enough a veg supplier gave chef a present of a veg box which had far too much for him so he gave us the rest. We then followed with a huge array of desserts as one of my friends Chiara is a pastry chef in Scott’s so she supplied the sweet treats such as two types of tiramisu (being Italian and all that), loads of different flavours of chocolate truffles, lemon madelines, pannetone ice-cream, such an amazing finish. We all booked off work until the 29th back on a dinner shift so that was lovely. It was one of my best Christmas’s yet and my first away from home!

Michelin star dining, London style!

Hello this is Daniel with my second post from London.

I was on my placement in Scott’s, a fine dining fish/shellfish restaurant based in the heart of Mayfair. In this post I am going to talk about the London dining scene and the restaurants where I managed to get tables while I was there. I had the opportunity to eat in some Michelin starred restaurants and also in some great restaurants which do not have a Michelin star.

It started last July when I ate in 'Kitchen Table by Bubbledogs' on Charlotte Street. It is a 2 star with a really interesting concept. The owner, James Knappett has a champagne and hot dog bar at the front hence the name bubble dogs, pretty clever eh?! So behind 'Bubbledogs' is a little curtain when pulled across is a bar like setting over looking a kitchen almost like an arena, the best show in town, 18 seats watching the service! So they open 4 nights a week, dinner only and strictly cater for 18 covers with a 12 course tasting menu only. The food was amazing and it is really special to watch it all being produced right in front of you. Below is a picture of their lamb rump cooked over coals with wild garlic puree, yoghurt and barbecued carrot.

One of the best meals I’ve ever had was at 'Midsummer House' in Cambridge. It was a gift from my girlfriend for Christmas, a tasting menu there for Christmas. So we scheduled our days off together mid-week and headed up on the train, its only an 60 miles outside London, so just under an hour on the train. We booked a lovely pub with rooms above it called the 'Waterman'. 'Midsummer House' itself is about a 6 minute walk from where we were staying, its right on the common and is what I would describe as a big welcoming cottage. We arrived and were greeted with the most lovely welcome by the manager who took our coats. My girlfriend, Chantelle, had been in touch previously to inform them where we worked and who we worked with etc. and they were more than happy to look after us! We indulged in a nine course tasting followed by a full tour of the kitchen and the head chef and sous chatted with us for about 20 minutes telling us what they were all about and we recommended places for them to try in London, when we sat down again the lads in the kitchen had decided to send us out an extra dessert from the lunch menu, the rhubarb one…. Phenomenal! The service and people running that restaurant are true gems of the industry!

Two other special meals I had whilst in London were 'Daffodil Mulligans' on Old Street (Richard Corrigan) and 'Allegra' in Stratford (Patrick Powell). Both Irish chefs doing the country proud with what they are cooking up!

So 'Allegra' is in Stratford which was totally rejuvenated after the Olympics. The restaurant is based in the 'Stratford International Hotel', such a beautiful space. The menu features Irish oysters, brown soda bread and cultured butter for the table. We went as a little wind down after the hectic Christmas period so it was a really amazing experience!

The other special meal I would like to mention was at 'Daffodil Mulligans' on Old Street, run by well renowned Irish chef Richard Corrigan. So let me paint the picture it has an Irish bar feel with a menu that would blow your mind. Very Irish focused, ingredients straight 'off the boat' as the saying goes. There main focus is on snacks with includes a huge array of Irish oysters and shellfish, steaks from Tipperary and pork from Ulster. Its also a great space to go for pints as they have a downstairs bar which has loads of snugs for large groups; Guinness on tap being the most important part of it all!

Hope you enjoyed reading about the great places in which I ate while in London!

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Fresh Business Knowledge

Hi Ya, Yasmine here... I'd like to talk  a bit about one of the modules that I am taking at Fontys is Fresh Business Knowledge, the first part of the semester focuses on sustainability, which is a passion of mine. As a part of this module we were assigned a two-part sustainability project. Individually or as groups we were to create a short informative video about a topic relating to fresh business and sustainability, it also had an accompanying research report.

Obviously as sustainability is a passion of mine this project spoke to me quite deeply. I have some previous knowledge of video editing, so I relished the idea of being able to combine the two into one fun academic project.

For my sustainability topic I choose plastic waste – or more the dangers/damages caused by plastic production or disposal. I knew I wanted to present a video that was factual, informative as well as helpful. I began by research facts about plastic production, plastic waste/recycling, CO2 emissions and plastic alternatives. I also video similar videos relating to plastics waste online, TED talks were an invaluable source of information.

Once I had a fact sheet in place, I began by brainstorming different lay out ideas on paper. I developed three options before choosing the one I felt had the best ‘flow’ for the information. Once I knew how I wanted the layout of the video to go, I drew a few very basic storyboards to envision where I should place title sequences or video clips etc. I then began piecing together clips from other sourced materials in a basic timeline on video editing software. Recording myself for the video was probably the most awkward part of the process, as it felt weird to me to be recording myself talking in my room. Arranging the video clips along side still images and sourced video material was a daunting task, it takes patience and time to get everything in place. Over laying the music, also sourced free online, was a less time consuming but still took the better part of an afternoon. Overall the creation of the video probably took me a week between research, prep, shooting and editing. I enjoyed it thoroughly though! It was such a fun and creative way for me to express my passion in sustainability in a new and different way.

I used the research I had done for the video fact sheet, which was extensive and referenced to write my report. Although it wasn’t as fun to create as the video, I did still enjoy writing the report as it allowed me an opportunity to widen my knowledge of plastic and its dangers. Doing this project has just concreted my believe in sustainability all that bit more. It isn’t easy to change my habits, but I want to try better to reduce my plastic consumption. Education is one of the best ways to change a habit, so I will continue to keep on learning all that I can about sustainability…and who knows maybe ill have the very fun opportunity to create more informative videos in the future!

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Studying at Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Venlo

Hi guys, Kate here again to share some of my news about my experience in the Netherlands and in Fontys.

So, I’m going to start by telling you about the classes. We are taking seven different classes. This includes some subjects that I have already studied but they are taken from a different view. So, in year one we did a module on food labelling, and we are doing that again in Fontys. However, over here we look at the designing of a label. I found this interested as I was able to use the info that I had learned before about the laws and regulations with labelling and put that into practice. Another subject which we have previously covered is sustainability. We did this module in year 2 and did a project to install compost bins in the college which as far as I know are now in use. But in Fontys we are studying this module again. This time, we got to choose our own subject we wished to study and look at. I choose the production of meat and CO2 emissions. I found this interesting, and then we had to produce a short film of 3 minutes to show our findings. A film is something I had never made before. I had great notions of what my film would be like… unfortunately by standards were set way too high. I had not realised how difficult film making was. Filming wasn’t so bad, but the editing was something else!! I got it done in the end, but just about!

(A picture from my film)

Other subject, such as economics, the supply chain and project logistics is something we have never looked at as culinary art students. Basically, project logistics includes a project which 4 students must work together. In my group, there me who’s obviously Irish, then 2 Germans and a Dutch. These people are absolutely lovely, and I have become good friends with one of the Germans. However, when it comes to working in groups it can be challenging at any time, there’s always that one person who does that little bit les than the rest, and on top of that we have a bit of a language barrier.  

Though, I find working in groups difficult as I like to work alone and often end up taking over, I’ve enjoyed working with this group. It’s very different to anything I’ve ever done previously. I believe I’m learning skills that I would not have learned with out going abroad. The simplest thing, such as slowing down as I speak, or speaking more clearly has encouraged me to be more mindful of how I speak and my accent.

Luckily, my Erasmus experience is not just studying! I might have gone crazy if that’s all it was! Luckily I have met great friends also. I will tell you more about, my social life and friends in my next blog.
Thanks for reading! Stay safe everyone!

Travelling in the Netherlands and Dutch Carnival!


Clara here with my third and final blog post from Venlo in the Netherlands. Time has definitely flown here, but I have enjoyed it more than I thought and made some of the best friends!

We didn’t do a lot of travelling but still managed to have some adventures. Recently four of us decided to borrow some bikes and cycle to Germany, what could have been a 20 minute cycle actually took us close to an hour as we got completely lost and ended up taking a path through the middle of the forest where we had to climb over trees and everything which resulted in one of the boy getting a puncture! So my advice is look into all the possible routes before taking this on. We did cop this on the way home and found a direct road the whole way back to Venlo, it was definitely an adventure.

We visited Eindhoven which is only a forty minute train journey and is worth going to, its only slightly bigger than Venlo but great if you wanted to do some shopping close by, there is also a huge variety of restaurants and cafes to go to there. We were not great tourists on this day and found ourselves just moving from restaurant to café to bar for the whole day but enjoyed the day out anyway.
Then came carnival and nothing can prepare you for that week! The weeks leading up to it lectures and other students tried to explain this festival and how crazy it was and we had no idea what we were in for we but we didn’t take it seriously and kind of though it was just a more colourful St Patrick's day but we were very wrong!  It's five days where basically the whole city shuts down and everyone is off work, school and college. Its constant, parties, drinking, parades and events. I do think I would like to do it again and be more prepared as I didn’t take part in it, like many of the exchange students as we didn’t understand how seriously they take it!

We actually found that we were the ones that looked ridiculous and stood out! But it was still good to experience it and see another countries tradition.
All in all living and studying in the Netherlands was a short but great experience. It was something completely different, the college itself and the classes and also living there. If you enjoy business and have an interest in food and would like a career in this I would say this is a great course to do, it’s a lot of groupwork and requires a lot of extra work outside of class time but very informative and worthwhile.

The exchange has been the best opportunity to make friends and learn about other people’s countries and cultures, there is no shortage of parties and social events so your never bored or have a minute to feel homesick.

Bye for now, 

Student life in Venlo!

Hi again,

Since my last post I have fully settled into college and the way of life in the Netherlands!

Classes are up and running properly and I do enjoy how different they are to my classes back home in Ireland, they are hard and very challenging at times as business is new to me but I think it will be beneficial. One of the classes in particular Fresh business is very interesting and very beneficial to the course Culinary arts, Supply chain management is also very useful. Some courses unfortunately are for me repetitive as I have already taken a module in Sustainability and Food Labeling so for me its slightly boring but I can’t fault any of the classes. However, I do think that I prefer the practical approach taken to my classes in WIT, I like the practical way of learning and although I do take theory classes I can apply everything from those theory classes to the practical classes so you always feel like you are learning something useful.

As well as classes I have really enjoyed living in the Netherlands, classes are spaced out nicely and there is nothing scheduled for Wednesdays which is a nice break in the middle of the week to get out and explore. I have discovered loads of lovely places to walk not far away from the town Venlo but you feel like your in the middle of the countryside.

There is also a gym close to both the college and the accommodation which isn’t just a good way to get fit but it’s also the best way to meet people as it seems to be a popular social spot.

The rest of the days have been spent going out for a lot of breakfast and dinners, where we start off with a small group of maybe four but by the end of it there’s always at least ten of us piling into a small restaurant or café asking can we all sit together, but staff have always accommodated the big groups so they are well used to this.

That is all for now but I'm sure there will be plenty to report on in my next post.
Bye for now,

Wednesday, 1 April 2020


Hi there , this is my last post from Scotland.
In this I will tell ye about my days off in Scotland.

The work week here starts on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday. My first week here, my days off  for two weeks ended up landing together. I had three days off in a row. This same weekend I was missing a event at home. So I bought last minute flights into Dublin. This is how easy it was to come home from Scotland for just three days and having no car. I couldn’t book flights too early In the morning as the public transport didn’t start until about 7/8 in the morning. I booked the flights only the night before. It was very easy.

One of my days off I went on a tourist day with one of the girls from Netherlands which I met at induction. She was also on a college placement in gleneagles. We walked to gleneagles train station which takes about 15/20 minutes and got train to Edinburgh, this brought us directly into the city centre. We got tickets for the hop on hop off buses around the city, explored Edinburgh castle and did some shopping before going for few drinks and food before heading back. Edinburgh is a beautiful city. It is full of old building and full of history. I would highly recommend the hop on hop off buses as you hear so many old stories about the city. We went to primark(Penney’s) which has 5 floors in Edinburgh! Great place to also get cheap things for my bedroom.

For my birthday my boyfriend was flying over for two days. Edinburgh airport is about 20 minutes away from city so I just got train to Edinburgh city to met him there. We went to the camera obscura and world of illusions. I would highly recommend going there, it’s very cool and interesting place. There  is floors of different things to see. My favourite part of it was at the end you pass through a moving tunnel with lights  around a straight bridge. It is  nearly impossible to was straight across it and is very fun.  For one of the nights, I used my staff discount to stay a night in the gleneagles hotel which is a experience I have never had before. It was also very nice to see the other side of the hotel as I’m always in the kitchen.

My 6 months in gleneagles was cut short by the world pandemic. I had to leave due to closer of hotel which I was gutted as  I felt I was really settling into the team of gleneagles. I would recommend anyone to do there placement here.


Hi there, Louise here from Gleneagles in Scotland! 
As I get to know more people here which everyone is very friendly. I am getting excited in the many adventures ahead. A hour train journey from Edinburgh and Glasgow, which hoping for many trips to each. I’ve heard a lot about the highlands in Scotland which I believe is a must do trip. 

I am stay in staff accommodation which is apart of my contract. It is a single bed in a small room, wardrobe and a desk and also have my own bathroom. You are allowed have a mini fridge and kettle which I brought as they were very handy for snacks. You don’t have a kitchen, there is a staff canteen which of get your meals out of. Very cheap to eat out of this canteen. They also have a staff bar which is a great place to meet new people. It opens most evenings from about 6 to 12. In this bar they have ping pong table and a pool table. 

As gleneagles has over 1000 staff there is plenty of people to make friends with, people from all over the world. There are many people in the same shoes as me in gleneagles which are here for college placement. Two days of induction were important to me. I learnt a lot  about the hotel and its past and it was a great way to make friends as they were all starting in the gleneagles at the same time, so we all had something in common. I meet some college students and people who were starting here as there full time job. This made moving away from home on my own easier and I was with people in the same situation. My first few evenings I sent going into the small down near the hotel to try get to know the place with some friends I made in induction. 

Really enjoying working in the pastry kitchen. I have mainly been in afternoon tea section so far which is amazing. I go in the morning and start get all the cakes ready, once ready have to go set up for service which is in a different kitchen. Then it’s time to start preparing for tomorrow. Team is very helpful. 

One Sunday of every month they have brunch. It is a buffet style brunch which is very exciting to be working on. One large stand is made up of small dessert, all types to try suit everyone. As a team in the pastry kitchen, everyone tries to come up with fun types of dessert and seasonal. They range from macaroons, cheesecake to homemade marshmallows. They also have a candy floss and popcorn machines which they got made for gleneagles. They also have a trolly made for yum yum eclairs. A yum yum is a Scottish dessert which is a glorified doughnut, it is normally drenched in sugary icing, it’s sponge filling twisted into a long plait. Gleneagles took its own take of it. Which was a doughnut shaped in a eclair filling with strawberry jam and pastry cream.