Cooking the perfect recipe
The Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, (IHMCT), at Kovalam, dishes out professionals for the hospitality industry.
IT PROBABLY is the only campus in the State to have a bar on the premises. If your mind is already racing along the lines of tequilas and margheritas, you'd better rein it in. The bar is off-limits for the students. The drinks they make, are to teach students how to make and serve drinks . For, this is the Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology (IHMCT) at Kovalam.
The reputation of IHMCT is not only on account of the training it provides in hotel management but also its role in shaping the personality and communication skills of the students.
One of the 24 similar institutes in each State of the country, IHMCT Kovalam was set up in 1990 to develop professionals in the hospitality industry.
Besides a three-year degree in hotel management, the institute also offers a PG diploma in housekeeping and front office operations, and a year's craft course in food production.
With an annual intake of 120 students, the institute currently has some 400 students and 40 staff members, including 12 of the faculty, on its rolls.
Food production, food service, housekeeping, and front office operations are the four aspects in which training is provided to the students.
In the first year, they are taught the basics of cooking. Says Chef Ivan Thomas, "Cutting and chopping, hygiene, and nutrition are some of the aspects the first year students work on."
Continental and Chinese cuisine is what they learn. "Continental cuisine is more scientific. For instance, if you have lean fish as raw material, you will choose a style of cooking suited to it."
Indian cuisine, which is more medicinal, is taught in the second year. Says Chef Pradosh Pai, "Students are taught quality cooking this year. They make food for some 300 people, including the students and staff members, every day. The menu includes vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, salads and desserts from different parts of India." Half the batch takes turns for a six-month training in hotels across the country.
In the third year, the students go back to Continental cuisine but unlike the second-year students who cook for larger numbers, two students here make four portions of each dish.
It is not just the kitchen where all the activity takes place. Serving of food is yet another art. The choice of the right tablecloth, napkins, knives and forks, is taught .
Housekeeping involves all cleaning work done in a hotel such as laundry, floors, windows, interiors and furniture. Front office operations involve handling the reception, phone calls, and all other activities that call for interaction with the customer.
Each student is trained in all aspects of hotel management to enable them to adjust to any work environment. But more often than not, they are unsure of what area they need to specialise in before taking their first-year exams. Ann Ruby Jose, a first-year student, wants to go into housekeeping, for the kitchen is too taxing a work for women. Her classmates, Arun Koshy, Bibin Baby and Ajit Kumar, are sure that the kitchen is their calling. Two more years, which include the industrial training, tell them how true their convictions are. Not all who pass through the portals of IHMCT join the hotel industry. The communication skills they develop here take students into careers as diverse as human resources, marketing and even call centres.
Not everything is upbeat though. Few here get jobs through campus selection. "The industry in Kerala is yet to open up," says Chef Ivan Thomas.
"Most people, save one or two, get jobs without much delay, and within two or three years find their way abroad," clarifies Chef Pradosh Pai.
Says Chef K. Rajasekhar, "Hotels these days find it expensive to come down to the campus. Many students also join cruise liners, which are a lucrative source of income."
Campus selection at IHMCT is underway, but only two students have been selected by the Taj group yet. Trident at Jaipur has called for resumes, while a walk-in at the Oberois' Rajvilas property is scheduled for early February.
The faculty seems confident that the good standing of IHMCT Kovalam will result in all its students landing good jobs.
R. K. ROSHNI
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