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!
Noma - Part 1 
The Copenhagen way of life is nothing short of amazing, with lots of food, beer, laughs and memorable times. The general young population love partying and living life to the fullest on our days off. Being such a tight group of people inside the kitchen really pays off as we develop into a family together outside making it easy to mix and have the craic together. One big thing that I was told by my Danish roomies was that I look too foreign, so I had to change my wardrobe. I guess wearing GAA gear is a no go here in Copenhagen! Comparing the life here to back home is like 2 different worlds, here the energy is constantly going with there always time for a meeting and a beer on our off days or even coffee before our workdays. Life is good here for sure! 
To be completely honest, I don’t believe it’ll ever set in that I am working at Noma seeing the likes of Rene Redzepi everyday and talking to him just as a normal person. The staff at Noma are some of the most caring people I have ever met in the industry, with everyone asking how you are and always a good morning and a good night, it is a very positive workplace. As for the work itself, we do a lot. Everyday we begin roughly at 8 to 10 AM, we start by packing away orders, preparing set ups for mise en place, and then we begin preparing food. We usually have 82 guests, or as we call them “Friends”, to make sure they feel at home with us. Anyway, we must always do a lot of preparation such as peeling Artichokes, beech nuts, straining stocks and sauces, painting moulds of bugs, sorting ants and organising it all to make it easier to finish down the line. One of the largest jobs we have everyday is the peeling, cutting and deseeding of roughly 550 cherry tomatoes for one of our first courses. It takes about 8 chefs to do this in about two hours start to finish. The last quite large job we have to do for service is building cauliflower flowers, by laying down one slice of cauliflower and overlapping again and again until you have a beautiful flower ready for our guests. We begin this job at half three, and we need 48 by half four. Seems easy enough but to do it right it takes time so we’re always struggling to get it done on time, however it usually comes down to the fact that since there’s so much to do elsewhere we can never get enough people to help us with it. During service I am very lucky to be able to cook a clam and saffron custard and also to be able to plate it for our customers. This dish is then finished with egg yolk sauce, black pepper, cured, dried and smoked fish, and lastly very expensive roe. To be quite frank, it tastes absolutely superb. Recently I have also been positioned on the production pass where we plate the Cauliflower tostada and the custard dish. 

I have also had the job to produce Family meal for 9 days. It consists of breakfast for 60 people, and then lunch for 80 everyday with the same breakfast everyday but always different lunches. I was paired with an Italian and Finnish chef and also an American fellow intern, we made Smoked Salmon, Ramen, Swedish Meatballs, Lentil Dahl, L’acqua Pazza, Cacio e Pepe, BBQ Chicken, Fish Pie and Pesto Pasta with chicken. It’s known to be the most stressful week of the internship but it is such a great opportunity to grow professionally and personally despite the stress. In conclusion to my first four weeks here in Noma, I love it and can’t wait to get back into it!

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

mid-way through Belfast

Hi Leeann, here from the Culloden estate and spa Belfast. This is my second blog which means I’m half way through my work placement. Our new head chef Liam has made a lot changes to the kitchen as well as the menu. The kitchen runs more smoothly and functions better for all the staff. We changed the recipe for Hastings wheaten scones to make the mixture softer in texture which lasts up to two days. The chowder is cooked to order which gives better flavour with fresh fish and we have got a lot of good complements from customers since we changed it. The hotel has an herb and vegetable garden which chefs and myself pick fresh herbs and vegetables everyday for our dishes. We use vegetables that are in season and try to have less wastage of food. the new menu is starting the end of November. We have been trying out the new dishes in the Cultra inn. The general manager and the new head chef mark from the Culloden have been tasting them. ">
A lot of famous people come to the Culloden and Cultra Inn. We had the Chelsea football team, Northern Ireland team, Ed Sheeran, Dermot Kennedy, the royal family and the local superstar Van Morrison always in everyday for his usual. Everyday there is always someone famous coming through the doors. Northern Ireland team came down to Cultra inn for their cheat day. It’s the second time they’ve been in they must like our food. The staff in Belfast have been so welcoming and sometimes after work we go into Belfast for a few drinks and to check out the nightlife. Some of the best places are benedict’s, the dirty onion, thirsty goat. The last three weeks the nightclubs have opened so the kremlin and boombox are most popular nightclubs. Recently my boyfriend and my family come up to Belfast and stayed in the Culloden for a night. We visited the titanic as we never been. It was great experience to see all the history about the titanic. We went to do a bit of shopping in Victoria square and Castle court shopping centre. We went for food and drinks in Cultra Inn as my family wanted to see where I have been cooking the last two and half months. The room was of such a high standard in the Culloden and the staff were so friendly and helpful to my family. The breakfast was fantastic, the section was great, and the head chef gave me a free breakfast as well to enjoy with my family before they went home. So that’s what been happening in Culloden estate and spa so far. I have a month left in the Culloden estate and spa and busy one at that. ITS CHRISTMAS SEASON!!!! Until next blog Leeann ">