Sunday, 27 March 2022

welcome to the Grand central

 Hello, Faith here again  

After completing my study period last semester in Coleraine, it was time to start my work placement. I have been here at the Grand Central Hotel in Belfast city for nearly a month now as a pastry chef alongside Marshall. The Grand central hotel is part of the hasting group and is located as the name would suggest right in the city centre, with another Hastings hotel, the Europa, just around the corner. The grand central is the newest Hastings hotel having been purchased in 2015 and then undergoing a 60-million-euro renovation, the new grand central hotel opened its doors in 2018. It stands at 23 stories making it the tallest commercial building in Ireland with around 300 bedrooms to offer.  


Damian Tumilty is the executive head chef here; he manages the kitchen team that is spread across different levels in the hotel. Dining is offered:  

  • On ground floor with the grand café with sit down breakfast being served daily, then lunch and dinner being served till 10 pm. In the café there is also a deli section that offers scones, bakewell  & brownie slices, cookies/biscuits, lemon meringue tarts as well as a cake special that are all prepared by the pastry team.  
  • On the first floor there is the seahorse restaurant and bar, at weekends the restaurant offers a buffet-style breakfast for guests and on Friday/Saturday nights operates an a la carte fine dining menu. On the first floor is also where the pastry kitchen is located right behind two function rooms.  
  • On the top floor in the observatory there is a small kitchen that is used to plate and serve the afternoon tea. Numbers for afternoon tea can reach into the 50s at the weekends and with Mother's Day happing this weekend we can expect it to be extra busy. At night the observatory runs as a cocktail bar till late. 

As part of the pastry team, we have to ensure the deli counter is fully stocked, afternoon tea is already to go on time, any function/meeting have sweet treats available as well as keeping a steady stock level of breakfast muffins, cupcakes and other goods. I work five shifts a week with two days off. I work to prepare the goods during the day, and do not yet have to work any evening shifts.  

Having now gotten used to the environment, the people and where everything is situated. This experience is one that I am enjoying, and I am happy I have been able to do my placement here. 


Friday, 25 March 2022

welcome back to brunch and bottle

 Hey everyone, I'm back 

Here to tell you a little bit more about my experience in brunch and bottle. 

I have really been having such a good time working here. I have become supper close with all the staff, everyone in the kitchen, even the waiting staff. The last couple of weeks I have had to get used to a new head chef in brunch and bottle. It was a little hard at first when you're just after getting used to the old one, but I have found he is very nice. He's young, he's new and he's bringing in new ideas that are very exciting. I definite have seen the last couple weeks that we are getting into more of the summer months and it's getting more and more busier with like Paddy's Day, Mother's Day coming up and Valentine's Day. All these bank holidays, that is just really busy times of the year.                                                                       


The one thing that's been very important to me that I have been shown in this place is that how a business works and how it's run properly, like doing orders for food on what you need, how much we think we need and making sure you're sorting out your fridges or freezers. Just doing simple things like that i never used to think of too much about but now it's just become so much more important to me and I'm doing it all the time in work. I understand a lot more on how businesses is run and how it works and what goes into it every day. I really like the way they treat me like an equal, they respect my input. if I think something is not right, I know I can always say it and they listen and if they can, they will change it.                       


About once a month, they do brunch, the brunch has a set menu that people can order from. It is a very popular event in their the usually have a team so it can be 80S teamed or 90s or disco things like that people have really enjoyed I can see, and as well they have a DJ and because the kitchen is open planned, we can see all the people which is very nice. people really enjoy the atmosphere that is sent out and you know they've gotten really good compliments about the food and once or twice people have come up and said to me that's all they really thank you for the service and the food they got served out was excellent. That really is nice and that really boosts my confidence. it can see that I am doing a really good job in here and I really like that. 

Thursday, 24 March 2022

Life in Edinburgh


Hi All, Bethany here, 

So, two months completed in the gorgeous city of Edinburgh. I am working as a Commis Chef in the Intercontinental Edinburgh The George Hotel. So far so good, I am really enjoying myself both in and out of work. I moved over a week before work started so I had plenty of time to sightsee and just enjoy myself. 

After my week of exploring and settling in, it was time for our company induction. There was lots of new staff joining the hotel and we had an interesting day of learning all about the hotel and the parent group IHG Hotels and Resorts. We were provided with a free lunch, as much coffee and cakes as we could stomach before a tour of the hotel.

To make the day even more interesting I ran into some familiar faces. My now good friend Lauren Butler, 3rd year BACA was sat next to me at the induction, and we are now working together in the kitchen, which makes the work so much easier and more enjoyable. After our induction we were invited for a welcome dinner with the rest of the Irish placement students joining the IHG group. This was such a great experience; the food was lovely, and we had an all-round good time. Following dinner, we wandered around the city and had a lot of laughs.

My first few weeks on the job were of course full of learning, mostly stationed on the Larder section until I was comfortable in the kitchen. Since then, I have been on the Pastry section, which has been so much fun, and I have definitely been in my element. All of the staff in the hotel are super friendly and supportive, especially the kitchen team. I have made such a good group of friends and have never felt more comfortable in a job before.

In the meantime, I have had some friends and family come to visit me, making the last month more exciting. I have eaten in some amazing restaurants, found the best places to get a coffee and nice places to visit on my days off.

All of these amazing experiences have made my first month in Edinburgh so easy and enjoyable. I cannot wait to see what the next few months brings, and hopefully they continue to be as fun.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Settling in Edinburgh


Hey guys, Lauren here writing to you from Edinburgh.

I am working in the Intercontinental the George Edinburgh which is a beautiful 5-star hotel in Edinburgh’s city center. I moved to Edinburgh at the start of February and started work very shortly after arriving first we had an induction day which included a bit of history about the hotel, a tour of the hotel, manual handling and fire safety training. They also provided us with a free lunch and plenty of coffee refills which was a nice touch and kept us all going through the long training day. We then also had some e learning we had to complete prior to starting work. I then started work on a Friday and was put on the banqueting section for the weekend as we had a function of 280 people in on Saturday which was the biggest function the hotel has had since its reopening. My first day was mainly all prep for the function on the Saturday which was a nice way to ease into work. For my first month I went between the starter section and the pastry section. We have been a short staffed lately which has been tough so some nights I’m running the two sections at once which is a lot to handle on a hectic Saturday night. But hey it’s definitely improving how I multi task and balance and prioritise jobs which is definitely a positive I can take from this experience. I am now moving onto the garnish section which is definitely hour busiest section, so I am looking forward to trying something different and I’ll keep you updated on how that goes.

 In terms of hours, I have been doing three and half days on and three and a half days off. So I work an eight hour day and three twelve and a half hour days so I work roughly 45 hours in four days. We do have a new executive head chef who has changed the schedule around for next week so ill be working two twelve-hour days and two eight-hour days, which I like a lot better because I will be feeling less burnt out.

Overall, I am generally loving my experience in Edinburgh. It is such a lovely city sometimes I feel like I’m living in a post card. I would definitely recommend coming to Edinburgh for placement there is so many amazing things to do and places to eat and lots of young people (meaning a great night life). I will talk more about all Edinburgh has to offer in my next blog.


Take care for now




Sunday, 20 March 2022

Toronto Part 2


Well here we are, half way through another 4 month stint abroad and it’s been very different at the very least. I’ve eaten some amazing food, seen some crazy places, and met some amazing people. And on top of all of that managed to do well in college grade wise. Not too shabby if you ask me !

Food in Toronto

Luckily we are absolutely spoilt for choice here with food. Whether it be vegan sushi to barbacoa, all of it is very delicious. Just this past weekend, I went to St. Lawrence’s Market downtown, were there is so much inspiration to be had. From massive Tomahawk steaks, in season vegetables, all the way to Alaskan King Crab, so much room for creativity. Within the market I bought a staple Toronto bagel wit smoked salmon, chive cream cheese and “the works”, so basically tomato, lettuce, onion and capers. Honestly it was so good, the ideal condition for a bagel, in a market surrounded by food and people talking, exploring and trying all things food. A chefs paradise. Afterwards I got talking to a few people and found a stand selling baby back ribs, which I devoured. And then cam the dessert of a raisin tart and a Portuguese custard tart. All of this came to about €15 in total, which is so cheap for essentially a full days worth of food. Of course there’s far more food than in the market, for example we tried proper Ramen, lovely broth, thick noodles, and all the toppings. In here there was also unreal dumpling of pork and shrimp. The actual experience of eating at a ramen shop was surreal, as the team at the front of the house all come to greet all customers coming through with a warm cosy feeling, much like is experienced at Noma! Street food here is second to none, it’s just so addictive. Phi and myself got Birria Tacos for about $7, and they were just so juicy and the perfect amount of spice also. Toronto is of course known to be highly multi cultural, street food back ups that statement tenfold and I would highly recommend people visit here for the food as the reason alone.


As I’ve come to learn, Toronto is absolutely stunning with an ever changing street life, and a breath taking skyline. As part of our faculty we were taken to CN Tower on a day out and we could see all of Toronto from up there, with it being the largest sightseeing building in all of North America. Sam and myself went up another 30 stories to see a bit more and it was class, with a smaller room and a kind of tilt here and there but a bigger field of view. Of course there’s beautiful buildings all around the city, with my favourite being on King’s Street. The Hockey Hall of Fame is situated there and stands out like a sore thumb but it looks stunning, and before that there is a triangular building straight out of a movie but it looks stunning against the backdrop of skyscrapers.


For our mid term, we decided we’d go on holidays. This took a solid month of planning before we finally decided on somewhere to go, but we eventually decided we’d head to Varadero, Cuba. So off we went for a week from Saturday to Saturday, LeeAnn, Sam, Anna, Sophie, Pernilla and I ready to have a bit of craic. Sure who else can say they did that on Erasmus! Cuba is a beautiful country full of culture, music, cigars and happy people. Of course there is a few rules you may follow but other than that it’s as safe as back home, or so we seen. We stayed in an all inclusive resort, so free food and drink as well as organised games and shows. It was some craic to be fair, we definitely lived it up.


College is going grand, we started new modules in this new term, with myself and LeeAnn doing Advanced Nutritional Cuisine and also Emerging Trends in Canadian Cuisine, which is essentially Molecular Gastronomy. We have guest chefs such as Dustin Gallagher, an ex Top Chef Canada Finalist. We are doing our internship within the college and are just off 2 weeks running the express café inside the college, cooking around 120 dishes a day for students and lecturers alike.


Toronto Part 1


Upon arriving in Toronto, I stayed at a Holiday Inn for 1 night, the morning after a few of us students, Sophie, Anna, Cora, Anouk and myself took a taxi to the college where we were lucky enough to meet each other for the first time and got to know our nationalities, names and courses. We basically just stuck together after that, and a day or 2 after, Leeann, Pernilla and Phi joined and us 8 have been fairly tight ever since. About a week after we had met, Erin and Rebecca, the placement coordinators over here, brought us for a walk around the arboretum in minus 17 which was definitely an experience! Since then we’ve done our own few bits of exploring here and there which has been definitely needed.

Social Life

For the entire month of January, we were our own entertainment to be honest as restrictions limited what we could do. However since the start of February, many things have re-opened . We’ve dined out, partied, all that and even attended a VIP lounge to watch the Super Bowl of all things ! Toronto really grows on you as a city the longer you’re here, with more to do around every corner the more you venture out. The food scene here is simply becoming more and more exciting also, with us trying Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Vietnamese, Thai and even a bit of Irish cuisine. There’s always somewhere new to see downtown, whether it be a coffee shop, vegan restaurant ( which there are many amazing ones of by the way), and even sights to see.

Cost of Living

Surprisingly, Canada is very similar to the cost of living in Denmark which has come as quite the surprise. Not to get too into detail, but all prior budgets have been blown out of the water, with no regrets however as we’re only here a short time, may as well live it up!  As an example, on our first day here we went to the mecca of Walmart where there was literally everything you could wish for, and it seemed fairly cheap as we went to the register, only for the tax to be added on after we scanned all the items. For going out on the town, there will of course be some more expensive places, but by just strolling around you’re guaranteed to find the odd deal. As is common knowledge I suppose, by working here it would be of course easier to make proper financial sense with buying things with a wage that would cover you.

The Irish Connection

I suppose one thing we’ve all realised over here is how small the world is, the amount of times we meet people from Ireland on a night out or even in restaurants is mad. On our first day downtown I met a lad from Carlow selling donuts and he offered me a job on the spot.  A bit mad like but sure it was right craic!


I suppose that’s all for the moment, an exciting few month up ahead so bring it on!

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Mid-way through my time in Canada


Hi all, Lee-Ann here

I am mid-way through my time here in Humber college in Toronto. As I said in my first blog that I was doing two classes for seven weeks and then another two for seven weeks aswel. My modules are all in kitchen which is very different than Waterford Institute of Technology as we had a lot more theory subjects. Italian cuisine and practical culinary skills proficiency class was a very easy level as I knew all the basics for these classes, so I enjoyed the two classes and learned more techniques from the lectures. I have started two new classes which are Emerging Trends in Canadian Cuisine and Advanced Nutritional Cuisine. They are at higher level which I am very interested to learn new Culinary skills and techniques. These classes are taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging my brain. They are very interesting so far and I hope that at end of my time here I will gain more techniques in cooking and more confidence in myself. The work experience is very enjoyable as I get to see what happens in preparation for cooking classes as I am in receiving and purchasing now. This includes purchase order, deliveries, inventory management, wagon building and lab technician.

The faculty of business which is our faculty organise trips for the international students which gives us time to get to know international students and we get to see the city of Toronto. I went on food tour, CN tower and ice skating so far. I am going to Nigari falls, hockey and basketball games before I go home.

There is a week off in the middle of the semester which David, Sam and myself and other International students decide to go to Cuba for the week. It costs us €840 each fights and all-inclusive hotel which is very cheap. From Canada it’s very easy to go see America or the Caribbean as its in between the two countries and the flights are very cheap at the moment. I never thought that I would go to different country when I am in different country. It was the best decision I have ever made as I got to see a different culture. It was a very relaxing holiday as what do you need only sun, drink and food.

To anyone going here in third year, I would encourage them to save as much as possible to do all the trips and explore the city as much as you can. There are so much food places in Toronto to choose from and enjoy your best life and go out to dinner as the food in residence is not great.

The next few weeks are busy as I want to see everything before I go. It will be a happy and sad time as I have to leave behind the friends I have made over here but also, I’m happy to be going home because I miss my family and friends.

chat soon.



Crazy busy nights at the Sleive Donard Hotel


Hello again, its April from the Sleive Donard


I started off my experience in the Sleive Donard working in the starter section of the main kitchen. The first day was a bit overwhelming that’s just because I wasn’t familiar with how the kitchen functioned. After that first busy night it all sunk in and the next day was easier. My job on starter section was to prepare all that needs to be done for service which starts at 6 o’clock. We would prep in big batches especially coming up to the weekend when it will be the busiest. So far, I am having a blast in the starter section. When I can, I help in any other part of the kitchen, so if I have a spare hour, I  want to get more experience, so I help the chefs out in pastry or help with main course preparation for service.

When I am covering in the pastry section, I am just helping out, so I only make sweet treats such as, scones, traybakes, muffins, crème pat. My goal is to be rostered for pastry for my last two months of work placement and get to do more technical desserts such as making pave. Its all very exciting at the moment but yes defiantly want to aim for more experience in the pastry section of the kitchen. One night I had to cover pastry on my own for service which I have never done before, but all I needed to do was to keep calm and follow what was on the menu, that night went amazing I loved serving all the desserts, I got to be artistic and show off what I could do.

Cooking night, another night I was put to the challenge of being on pans which means when orders come in I will cook the meats and fish. This was a really busy night and I never got to do this before, so it was new to me. All was going well till near the end of the night when I burnt my hand badly so had to step out from the kitchen, I was disappointed, but I made it a challenge to go back the next day and made sure that that burn wasn’t going to stop me from learning. The next night went smoother. Practice is key. I was taken out of my comfort zone those both nights, it’s what I needed. I now how to cook lamb, duck, sirloin, salmon, and sea bass to order.

 What an exciting experience I am having so far.

Until next time!