Co-curricular activities for all-inclusive development of culinary students in culinary schools is a vital part of the training program an academic institution may include or offer as part of their regular training program. This means that the culinary students are given activities beyond the limit of the curriculum. Normally, a culinary student attends either a lecture class or a practical class that both teach theory and hands-on culinary techniques. But this approach only limits the student learning to culinary theory and its techniques. It does not teach the culinary student the valuable lessons of applying theory & techniques in an actual working environment such as a restaurant that involves time management, pre-service set-up, service communication and the other things needed for a fast and smooth service. Hotels, restaurants and other food related business prefers to hire fresh graduates or students for on the job training that requires little or the least amount of training and supervision during their employment or training.
This is why there is a need for co-curricular activities in a good culinary school, to complement the theory and technical training classes it offers based on their curriculum. These activities can be several things, such as a simple role-playing workshop to something more functional such as operating an actual training restaurant on-site in school where the students can run and operate the restaurant with the supervision of chefs based on their theory and technical classes. The period for students to participate in such activity can depend on the school, some will conduct it for just a week, while some schools conduct it for several months or even operate like a regular restaurant and open to the public all year round. Some schools opt to include such type of activities and conduct it as part of their practical examinations. There are also other schools that include such activity as part of their regular curriculum in which the student goes through breakfast, lunch and dinner service using various types of service such as buffet, set menu and a la carte. By including such type of co-curricular activities, the student is able to practice immediately what they have learned in their lecture and practical classes and becomes a better candidate for employment after graduation. Likewise, student undertaking an on the job training will also be able to adapt faster to an actual working environment as they would already have a similar type of training while still in school.
To take the development of the culinary student even further, the academy I work for also includes for the student to regularly sit down as a guest in the training restaurant. We feel that we needed to bridge the gap where the student must also be able to understand well the point of view of the guests and what it feels like to be sitting down in the dining room of a restaurant and be a guest too, instead of just being someone who cooks and serves the food for the guests. For a cook or chef to be able to fully understand guest complaints such as food taking too long to be served or wrong and incomplete orders or poor quality concerns, then it is advantageous for a graduate to have also experienced these during their studies at the school. Training the student not only to prepare and cook meals for the guest, but to train them as well on how to serve the food and beverage is also an all-inclusive to the development of the student. Learning both the front and back of the house is a vital tool for success for any aspiring cook or chef and this can also have an effect on how fast a culinary graduate advances in their careers in becoming future chefs or pastry chefs.
This type of co-curricular activities also makes it more interesting for students and provides not just classroom training, but makes learning more interesting and fun for them. This will also increase the quality of the training of the student and make them more employable will highly marketable skills.
About the Author
Jeremy Young is a graduate of Les Roches, Hotel Management School in Switzerland and Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. He has worked for the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa of the Walt Disney World in Florida USA and is currently the Dean and Head Chef for International Culinary Arts Academy Cebu, a British Certificate Culinary School in the Philippines which is a registered training centre for City Guilds of London.