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Updated: November 23, 2009 15:55 IST

Catering: the flavour is back

S. Aishwarya
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Students at a practical session in the kitchen at the Pondicherry Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology .Photo: T. Singaravelou
Students at a practical session in the kitchen at the Pondicherry Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology .Photo: T. Singaravelou

The fast-paced growth of the hospitality industry in the country is attracting many students.

A fat pay packet, higher-end hotels, the prospect of around-the-world tours and cruises — all these make the hospitality sector an attractive proposition for the youth. This industry maintains a fine balance of demand and supply. A passion for the profession is all that is required for one to plunge into the profession. Food production, the core activity of any hotel is an apt area for students who are willing to experiment and innovate and do not mind sweating it out in the kitchen. “Experience is a great asset when it comes to kitchen jobs. But freshers are also preferred. ” says G. Ravikumar, Executive Assistant Manager, Green Park Hotels.

Placement

At the entry level, the pay ranges between Rs 10,000 to 12,000, but with experience and expertise, it goes up. A graduate programme in the hospitality and hotel management institutes essentially trains candidates in front-office, housekeeping and food production. Like any other programme, reputation of the institute is certainly a strongpoint. Interview and basic written test would be conducted by hotels to filter out applications. Those who have experience, need to undergo a food trial, which would test their speed and culinary skills.

Recruitment

Candidates with excellent soft skills and a good understanding of customer requirements shine in front office jobs. “We constantly identify talent. Hospitality and special attention are the mantra. The employees need to be on their toes to sense the specific needs of guests even before they tell us,” Mr.Ravikumar says.

Internships and training are an integral part of a hotel management programme and for colleges that cannot guarantee placement, internships are a saving grace. During the month-long internship, the students' culinary talents, dexterity and willingness to learn are gauged and the best of the lot manage to get plum jobs. “It all depends on the attitude of the students. If they are focused and are sincere, they have a fair chance of being absorbed,” says Avinash Deshmukh, Food and Beverages Manager, Sheraton Park Hotel and Towers.

More jobs

The industry, which halted its recruitment drive owing to the economic slowdown, is now limping back to normalcy. The slowdown has now triggered fresh set of recruitments from top-rated hotels, he says. “It is not an industry that would suffer setbacks for long. Tourism and commerce are growing and the hospitality sector grows along with them,” Mr.Deshmukh observes.

To make sure that best talents are well-trained, higher-end hotels are now offering courses and selecting candidates who fulfill their requirement. The Delhi-based Oberoi Group, for instance, offers a three-year Systematic Training and Education Programme in kitchen operations. It integrates a bachelor degree in Tourism Studies from the Indira Gandhi Open University with the training. The students earn a certificate of proficiency from the hotel and a bachelor's degree from the IGNOU.

Tourism

Hassle-free travel is as important as comfortable stay. Those who are fond of traveling, get a slew of opportunities to schedule and manage the itinerary of tourists. The travel and tourism management course, though at a nascent stage, is getting its share of demand from the industry.

The State Tourism Department, on its part, has roped in a group of students with travel management degrees to work as guide tourists assisting those traveling in the Hop-on Hop-off coaches in Chennai, that ply from Chennai to Mamallapuram, covering all the important tourist attractions enroute.

Courses

Travel companies such as Thomas Cook, along with aviation companies, offer diploma courses on leisure travel management. The Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management, a Gwalior-based institute run by the Ministry of Tourism, trains students through a 16-week guide training programme, apart from its other graduate programmes. To get a hang of the hotel and tourism sectors and enjoy the best of both worlds, the National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Hyderabad, offers a two-year MBA in tourism and hospitality.

It is no more enough to be just a good cook. A balanced ingredient of training, skill and attitude makes a world of difference in the gastronomic business.

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