Switzerland’s oldest hospitality institute comes to Pune. By Aditi Pai
The glass should always be placed three inches from the edge of the table. Shoes should be polished to shine like a mirror. It’s this attention to detail that makes Ecole Hoteliere Lavasa stand apart from most other hospitality institutes. The 67,000 sq feet campus nestled in the lush hill city of Lavasa is the Indian network school of the famous hospital institute Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne of Switzerland. So, the course curriculum, teaching styles and assessments follow the rules laid down by the flagship institute.
As you enter the institute, you are struck by the state-of-the-art infrastructure-multi-media classrooms, wine testing lab, auditoriums, a cyber hotel, housekeeping lab training and display kitchens and mock guest rooms to give students an allround hands-on experience of the hospitality industry. “We focus on the four pillars of hospitality — food production, house- keeping, Food and Beverage service and front office operations,” says Rony Kurien, Dean, Administration. The study rooms have the latest technology and equipment to enhance the learning process. The main demo station is fitted with everything from an induction plate and a wok to a teppanyaki grill for the instructors to demonstrate every possible cuisine at one counter. Two cameras constantly focus on the chef ’s hands and the images are projected onto a large screen to ensure that students don’t miss a single stir of the spoon or flip of the pan.
The institute offers a four- year Undergraduate Hospitality Management Programme that lays equal emphasis on academic learning and hands-on training. The classroom sessions don’t follow the conventional discourse method. The teachers, who are called ‘facilitators’, provide students a Pre-course Guided Module that
prepares them for discussions and debates during classes. The faculty members are trained at the main institute in Switzerland to follow the same teaching practices and ethos. During the four-year programme, students cover an array of subjects from food and beverages — which is the focus — to revenue management, human resource management, marketing and law and ethics. In the third and sixth semester, students must complete internships in different departments of hotels that provides them a closer look at the industry. The evaluation isn’t exam-heavy here and students are assessed throughout terms on the basis of assignments, in-class quizzes and practical sessions.
With an emphasis on practical and real world learning, the institute has four restaurants that are run by the students. At De France, students put up a theme lunch— and are responsible for everything right from the menu design and uniforms to the table décor and music. So, be it an Iranian lunch or a French seven-course meal, the students manage all departments from inventory management to cooking and service. Besides mock rooms to learn housekeeping services, students hone their skills at the Mercure and other hotels within Lavasa to get a feel of how hotels in the real world function on a day-to-day basis.
A walk around the sunlight bathed corridors provides one a peek into the stateof-the-art infrastructure that the institute provides. From walk-in chillers and floorto-ceiling multi-purpose ovens to cooking utensils and grills for almost every type of global cuisine, it’s all there. “What utensil or pan you use plays an important role in how the food will turn out. Every cuisine demands a certain cooking method,” explains Leevin Johnson, a renowned chef and manager of operations at the Ecole Hoteliere Lavasa.
With strict kitchen etiquette and hygiene practices, the students are taught to follow the highest quality controls. There’s a bakery and confectionary department with a variety of dough kneaders, whippers and sheet makers; the butchery has an infra- red sanitiser to disinfect knives, a vacuumiser to store meats properly and a strict protocol on segregating chopping boards for every type of meat. To teach students the importance of hygiene, the institute even has a garbage room where waste matter is stored at under 5 degrees Celsius to prevent it from decay and contamination before it is disposed. There's also a receiving area where vegetables are washed and segregated and the meat is tested in a micro lab before it makes its way to the refrigerators.
At the end of the course, students get a certification from Lausanne and Lavasa and students are allowed to shift to the other Ecole Hoteliere campuses across the world after completing the first two years.
Extending its repertoire of courses to suit the entire hospitality industry, the Ecole Hoteliere Lavasa plans to launch a number of short term courses such as cruise liner management, spa and wellness and bakery certificates from the next academic year. As the students smartly dressed in crisp black business suits quickly slip into their kitchen uniforms to learn the nuances of Caribbean cuisine, they highlight the motto of the Ecole Hoteliere Lavasa — combining the discipline of science with the creativity of the arts.
From walk-in chillers and floor-to- ceiling multi-purpose ovens to cooking utensils and grills for almost every type of global cuisine, it’s all there at the Ecole Hoteliere Lavasa