Culinary Arts at HELP College of Arts & Technology
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IT has been Niroshen Manni’s dream since he was in Form Five to become a chef.
Inspired by his late mother, he wants to keep her memory alive.
“My mother was a really good cook who used to prepare all my favourite dishes for me.
“I like cooking and hope I can be as good as my mother some day,” he says.
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Niroshen also enjoys baking, particularly mango cakes.
“I haven’t decided if I will open my own business or work in the hospitality industry.
“I am learning a lot here so I will be able to make the decision when I complete my studies,” says the second year Diploma in Culinary Arts student at the HELP College of Arts and Technology (CAT).
According to Centre of Culinary Entrepreneurship and Hotel Management director Andrew Pennington, the Diploma in Culinary Arts ensures students have a sound foundation in both culinary and entrepreneurial skills.
“I wish I had known these skills when I was working as this would have made me a
better manager,” he says.
Pennington says the selling points of the diploma include a strong HELP brand and good central location in Kuala Lumpur.
“It is also a small cohort so we know our students well and ensure they receive individualised attention,” he adds.
Maverick Chong, who is also a second year Diploma in Culinary Arts student, likes the small classes as he gets more attention.
Fellow coursemate Yau Jen Nee agrees, saying that it is thanks to the lecturers’ approachability that students are not intimidated.
“Our lecturers are like our friends so we don’t feel shy when we have a question,” she adds.
The Diploma in Culinary Arts programme at HELP CAT was developed in collaboration with the renowned Institut Paul Bocuse of France. Bocuse is a French chef based in Lyon, known for his three Michelin star restaurants.
According to Centre of Culinary Entrepreneurship and Hotel Management
“We designed the facilities to accommodate the curriculum and formed the initial team to work on the details for each specialised culinary related skill sets.
“A lot of work was also put into choosing the right equipment, finding a suitable vendor and designing the space layout,” adds Tan.
“At the time, the staff from the Institut assisted us in refining the curriculum content and lesson plans. Several chefs also helped out with the teaching materials including the recipes,” he says.
But a unique point is also having Pennington on board as the director of HELP CAT’s
Centre of Culinary Entrepreneurship and Hotel Management.
HELP University president and vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Paul Chan says the university has been headhunting for a suitable candidate for some time.
“We wanted a dynamic and congenial person who is also first class in the hospitality and culinary industry,” he adds.
Dr Chan says Pennington fits the bill due to his tremendous experience and exposure in the hospitality industry.
“He is versatile and has cross cultural competencies. With this background, I cannot find a better person to lead the Centre of Culinary Entrepreneurship,” he adds.
Pennington who arrived in January to take on the job, brings a wealth of experience gained from working in the hospitality industry in various roles for more than 20 years.
He has worked in many countries including Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Dubai, Oman and Europe.
“My interest in the hospitality industry started when I worked in small social clubs as a ‘bar boy’ in Cardiff, Wales when I was around 14 or 15.
“I’m quite a sociable person so I felt the industry was the right path for me to take,” he says.
Subsequently while working in Hong Kong and Taiwan, Pennington picked up some Cantonese and Mandarin as well.
After travelling the world, he decided to study for a Master’s Degree in Hospitality
from Thames Valley University, London and is currently in the final stages of completing a PhD at the University of West London, United Kingdom (UK).
He is also a qualified teacher, holding a postgraduate diploma in Teaching and Learning and a Teaching English To Speakers Of Other Languages (TESOL) qualification.
“The TESOL qualification is useful in non-English speaking countries as many of the skills you learn on a TESOL course are for people with minimal English. Therefore, using more visual aids, repeating words and asking questions to check concepts, are all things that I still use when teaching international students,” he explains.
Pennington says his role at the Centre of Culinary Entrepreneurship and Hotel Management is to ensure the students are employable, ready for the industry and to maintain academic standards.
“We can’t babysit the students as they need to be prepared.”
He acknowledges that it is a great industry to be in as one can travel the world.
“I have served many people including the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Bon Jovi and the Spice Girls, and experienced new cultures and languages,” he says.
Pennington has been told he looks like renowned British chef Gordon Ramsay but is he anything like him in temperament?
“It is important to be tough as students need to learn to be on time as this prepares them for the industry but I believe in the 4Fs which is firm, fun, friendly and flexible,” he says.
To further build the students’ confidence, they also run a pastry shop within the
Tan says the shop is called PASTE3 as it sounds like the word “pastry”. The number three comes into play because the shop is on level three of the building housing the institution.
“Students from all cohorts run it together under our internal Junior Chef’s Club. It is good for the students to practise their pastry skills and taste the spirit of entrepreneurship,” he adds.
Tan says the pastry chef and boulanger (baker) mentor the students on product ranges, and eventually, it will be fully planned and operated by the students.
The baking is done between classes and sometimes on Saturdays.
As for the lecturers, Tan says they have industry experience of between five to 20 years each.
There are currently six chefs including a specialist pastry chef, Chinese cuisine chef, French cuisine chef, boulanger and a part-time dim sum chef.
Other experts include a food and beverage service specialist, a marketing specialist and a business specialist.
Dr Chan is justifiably proud of the top-of-the-art facilties at the centre.
There are five state-of-the-art kitchens; two European, two Chinese and an open Western kitchen and restaurant which are geared towards students learning and developing their skills in various types of cuisine.
“The Centre of Culinary Entrepreneurship is special in many ways as it is international, with both East and West culinary cultures.
“It is also enterprising in that it goes beyond training as Andrew and his team nurture
entrepreneurship among the students,” he says.
This is why, he adds, it is called the Centre of Culinary Entrepreneurship and not just a centre for culinary training.
“The staff-student ratio, the course content, teaching pedagogy and the quality of the materials used are of global standards. We have one of the best kitchens around as well,” adds Dr Chan.
And to add to the feather in the centre’s cap, he announced that Steve Allen, the former head chef at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s in London, UK, would be an industry advisor.
Allen who is currently The Delicious Group Sdn Bhd chief executive officer, says he is looking forward to working closely with HELP.
At a special event called “A Night with Steve Allen” held recently, he worked with a group of culinary arts students to create a fine dining event for 60 guests.
“The students did most of the work while my team and I supervised. We did a wide range of dishes with local influences so they could gain an overall range of skills,” he says.
Allen also acknowledged the students’ confidence and professional manner.
The article above is taken from Star newspaper published on June 9, 2013 and written by Karen Chapman.
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