THE CULINARY TRAINEE
He is an aspiring Chef, drawn to cooking since he was just 12 years old. William had his first kitchen lesson as a young teenager, and now can't get enough. Currently, he is finishing his degree in International Hospitality Management. As of this July, he just came back from a 6 month internship at the world renowned The Ritz-Carlton, Hong kong.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING AT THE RITZ-CARLTON, HONG KONG?
Excerpts from Williams personal blog:
Excerpts from Williams personal blog:
THE LOUNGE AND BAR
It was at the Lounge and bar that I was first assigned to as a trainee. I was just an eager unexperienced guy back then! Actually, I still remember the moment I got my first task.
I was asked to slice and process cooked chicken, I was confident that I can do it effortlessly, but I actually had a hard time. The real world kitchen felt so different from the controlled settings that we had at the kitchens at school. I had to step down and be more humble, I had to assume that I still have much more to learn, and I am here to soak as much knowledge as I can.
My work at the Lounge and Bar was to basically prepare and refill the breakfast and lunch buffets. Prior from working, I thought managing buffets was just a simple thing to do, but no I was wrong, it was like conducting an orchestra. Every detail should be correct, every dish and plater should be in its proper place, and we have to make sure the food is always refilled.
THE COLD KITCHEN
Fast forward a month into my internship, I am now assigned to the Cold kitchen of the hotel. In the cold kitchen we had to prepare the sandwiches, cold cuts, seafood, tarts, and the salads used for the entire hotel. I could say that they let the trainees do the long intensive/repetitive jobs. I cannot complain about that since I am here to learn. The long hours felt shorter since I had several trainees working with me. The work here is either very long or very short, there would be days that there were many orders for the events in the hotel in which we had to prepare hundreds of plates, and in contrary to this, there would be days that we had nothing to do, so we all go home really early.
On my third month I was transferred to the Pastry department. I thought I was going to help with the main pastry kitchen to make the pastry distributed in the whole hotel, but I was assigned to the Tosca pastry department. I was so excited since I would be doing real service. The pastry chef was really nice! he encourages me to be the best at what I do, and most importantly, he gave me a different perspective to pastry.
Pastry service at Tosca for me starts at 2 pm and will end up at around 11:30 pm. At first this working period was a challenge for me, since I would end late, but eventually I got used to it.
Hong Kong is probably well know for its massive and elegant banquet events.
I was really intimidated at first when I was assigned to the banquets kitchen, since there were many chefs that looked like they had decades of experience. My first job here is to prepare the hot dishes for the lunch buffets. I would sear and roast different meats. I would slice and prep sacks of vegetables too. It was in this kitchen I met the first chef in the hotel that really pushed me to my limits, and I am grateful for that. He would criticise all my work and would correct me, sometimes humiliating me. Because of him I grew and I became tougher. Eventually I gained his trust and friendship since I pushed myself to do my best in every event we had.
I was amongst the first trainees to be assigned to the hotels Bar/private kitchen. The staff here were really diverse, our head chef was from Peru, our bartenders are from Mexico, and our servers are from Switzerland. During my first weeks, I was assigned to the cold kitchen here. I did a lot of prep of vegetables and seafood used for the menu. It was in this cold kitchen I really honed my knife skills, since I would basically use a knife the whole day. Then on my last few weeks here, I was assigned to the hot kitchen, in here I would help do the orders for the menu. There would be days that we would have private kitchen events, so I helped plate and prep for it.
I am back! but now I am part of the hot kitchen. I was given my own station, the amuse bouche section. I felt tremendous pressure that I was given responsibility for the first dish that the guests would eat. I would do all the prep and plating of the amuse bouche. The Chef would change the recipe for the amuse bouche weekly, and it would always be quite complicated. I had to become very responsible, I had to make sure that the components were enough. I would sometimes sacrifice my break times just to prepare for dinner service. One thing that I found weird was the amount of vegan guests that came to dine, we had to plan ahead and prepare vegan alternatives for them. I found this a bit of a hassle because sometimes they would be very demanding. Nonetheless I enjoyed and learned from every minute working here at Tosca.