Hos­pi­tal­ity he­roes

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING -

HOW do you re­ward the crème de la crème of Malaysian hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try trainees? Why, send them on a jaunt to ex­pe­ri­ence the best prac­tices and lat­est trends in the food and bev­er­age busi­ness, of course.

The Guin­ness An­chor Ber­had Academy did just that to four of its best trainees – se­lected from the group of 300 who took part in the Ho­tel, En­ter­tain­ment Out­lets & Restau­rant Op­er­a­tors (HEROs) pro­gramme.

Clarice Chau, Suresh Si­nasamy, Sudeep Singh and Malaysia-based French­man Ni­gen Flo­rian spent five heady days in Bangkok last month, in a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence cov­er­ing ser­vice stan­dards, cock­tail-mak­ing skills and even prod­uct de­sign.

And to top it all off, there was an­other chal­lenge for the “Heros” – to be picked as the best at the end of the trip.

The sod­den weather in Thai­land’s cap­i­tal city did lit­tle to dampen their en­thu­si­asm. With iPads in hand, the ea­ger beavers soaked up new skills and knowl­edge from celebrity chefs, wine and cock­tail buffs, crys­tal stemware ex­perts, and gift and premium de­sign­ers, all in the spirit of fun and ca­ma­raderie.

Among the high­lights of the ex­pe­ri­ence was a visit to the Sirocco Sky Bar, made fa­mous by the Hol­ly­wood movie Han­gover 2.

Lo­cated on the 63rd floor of State Tower LeBua Ho­tel, it is one of the world’s high­est drink­ing spots. The hang­out for celebri­ties over­looks a panoramic view of the city and of­fers great live jazz.

Chau, 21, of Traders Ho­tel’s Sky­Bar, Suresh, 37, (New Or­leans, Gent­ing), Sudeep, 36 (Santini KLCC & TCM) and Flo­rian, 26, (WIP, Bangsar) also learned about “new lat­i­tude” wines at the Siam Win­ery, one of the few places in the re­gion where grapes are grown and made into a va­ri­ety of wines.

The “Heros” also un­der­went a sway­ing cook­ing les­son on board the Manohra, a con­verted teak­wood rice barge as it cruised along the river Chao Praya River, of­fer­ing views of an­cient mon­u­ments amidst the modern ar­chi­tec­ture of Bangkok.

They started out at the Hyde & Seek Gas­tro Bar, which has grown from an ob­scure out­let to an iconic eatery for both lo­cals and for­eign­ers.

Apart from meet­ing its award­win­ning bar­tender, who pro­vided great tips on con­coct­ing drinks, they also tried their hand at mak­ing A Boy Named Panache, a re­fresh­ing cock­tail made with vodka, vanilla syrup, pineap­ple juice, pas­sion fruit and a splash of Heineken beer.

Next was a stopover at the Ocean Glass fac­tory, one of Asia’s fore­most glass and crys­tal mak­ers.

The “Heros” learned about the va­ri­ety of glass­ware, the pro­cesses in­volved, the qual­ity dif­fer­ences of the var­i­ous types of stemware and suit­abil­ity of pair­ing with wines served.

Later, they had to put on their think­ing caps and be creative at NightAddz, an award-win­ning in­ter­na­tional de­sign firm spe­cialis- ing in F&B pre­mi­ums.

The “Heros” had to cre­ate con­cept draw­ings and see them through pro­duc­tion at the work­shop con­ducted over two of­fices of the com­pany, lo­cated within walk­ing dis­tance.

An­other high­light of the learn­ing trip was a visit to the Tawandang (Red Sun, in Thai), a huge beer hall where ev­ery day is like Ok­to­ber­fest.

They saw for them­selves first­hand how the beer in the first Ger­man mi­cro­brew­ery in Thai­land is made and served with a wide spread of Thai de­lights.

GAB Academy man­ager He­manth Ja­yara­man said much ef­fort went into the plan­ning of the pro­gramme so that the “Heros” could gain max­i­mum ben­e­fit from the trip.

The aim was to en­able them to re­turn with a good over­view of how they could en­hance their prac­ti­cal skills and roles in the F&B in­dus­try.

“Bangkok was se­lected be­cause it is known in­ter­na­tion­ally for its ex­tra­or­di­nary ser­vice lev­els,” said He­manth.

“The city is also recog­nised as a model of in­no­va­tive F&B con­cepts, and it of­fers great cul­tural sim­i­lar­ity and an easy way of life. The choice proved to be right, as the “Heros” lapped up their ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially as some of them had not even been to Thai­land be­fore.

“The key part of the ex­pe­ri­ence was that it was prac­ti­cal.”

The re­sponse from the “Heros” was a whole­hearted ap­proval.

For Suresh, the pin­na­cle of the trip, in more ways than one, was the visit to the Sirocco Sky Bar.

“It was an ex­hil­a­rat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. The rooftop bar is set against the breath­tak­ing Bangkok sky­line,” he said.

Flo­rian, who was later picked as the best trainee and won an iPad as his prize, said the GAB Academy had pro­vided him with keys to an­a­lyse F&B con­cepts, bars, out­lets and cus­tomers.

“I had al­ways thought that be­ing in the F&B in­dus­try would en­able me to travel the world. I never thought that I could ac­tu­ally in­crease my knowl­edge by trav­el­ling to other coun­tries,” said Flo­rian.

Chau, the only rose among the thorns, de­scribed the trip as lots of fun, es­pe­cially be­ing in the com­pany of trainees and train­ers.

“I also en­joyed vis­it­ing all the var­i­ous bars and see­ing all the dif­fer­ent con­cepts,” she added.

Sudeep said it was great to be given a chance to visit all the fa­mous out­lets in Bangkok as it pro­vided him new ideas and con­cepts.

“We got to see and do so many dif­fer­ent things, like cook on a river boat and cre­ate new F&B ac­ces­sory ideas at NightAddz.”

The GAB Academy is aimed at equip­ping trade part­ners and their ser­vice staff with a com­pet­i­tive edge through train­ing and pro­vi­sion of F&B man­age­ment tools and re­sources.

The train­ing con­sists of three semesters in­volv­ing class­room lessons, on-site train­ing at out­lets and off-site train­ing.

Ser­vice staff who take part in the pro­gramme are mon­i­tored and ap­praised to stand a chance to win the Heros of the Year award.

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