Culinary away from the kitchen


STUDENTS considering the prospect of studying culinary arts may wonder: As movement control continues to be enforced and with virtual classes limiting practical learning, how will they fare until campuses reopen?

Taylor’s Culinary Institute (TCI) is re-inventing and adjusting its teaching and learning model by embracing a holistic and innovative education system to enable a continuous learning experience.

Recipe for success: Challenging the status quo

Prior to Covid-19, TCI has a record of securing international internship placement for students in top Michelin-star restaurants in countries like Spain, France and Italy to learn from culinary leaders such as Michel Bras, Massimo Bottura, Erik Anderson, Frank Putelat, and Martin Berasategui.

However, as the pandemic continues to pose a challenge for international travel and physical interactions, TCI has strategised new methods to keep students on track with their education.

Taylor’s Culinary Institute director Chef Frederic Cerchi has 20 years of experience, having worked at a string of Michelin-star restaurants. His network of connections has allowed Taylor’s students to secure international internship placements in top Michelin-star restaurants around the world to be guided by culinary experts.Taylor’s Culinary Institute director Chef Frederic Cerchi has 20 years of experience, having worked at a string of Michelin-star restaurants. His network of connections has allowed Taylor’s students to secure international internship placements in top Michelin-star restaurants around the world to be guided by culinary experts.

“From the onset, we manufactured a plan for alternative forms of module delivery and created a simulated environment for practice wherever possible as a contingency plan until it is safe to return to campus, ” TCI director Chef Frederic Cerchi said.

As classes are now conducted virtually, TCI has integrated innovative use of technology to its kitchen-classroom settings, equipping it with a state-of-the-art lecture system to conduct practical learning sessions.

This has allowed TCI to create an interactive online internship experience. A first-of-its-kind internship training programme, this was established to provide students an opportunity to undergo their internship despite the limitations brought on by the pandemic.

Students were given the task to virtually set up their own company – complete with responsibilities that teach them creative skills from coming up with a business logo and vision to food and business management through social commerce, and consulting and negotiation capabilities to “sell” their services.

“Activities are curated to specifically develop students’ critical thinking capabilities, sharpening their analytical and negotiation skills and building their interpersonal and entrepreneurial abilities, ” said Cerchi.

This innovative curriculum has seen remarkable results for many TCI graduates, as they are able to turn this crisis into opportunity.

“The programmes provide real-world solutions that will be beneficial when students go out to the working world. Additionally, it enables them to develop the ability to create and innovate as they take on their own career path, ” said Cerchi.

Rising to the Challenge

For chef and entrepreneur Edric Lee Mun Foong who recently graduated from TCI’s Advanced Diploma in Culinary Arts programme, TCI’s methods of teaching and learning has allowed him to prepare ahead for life during Covid-19.

Upon graduation last year, Lee was looking forward to a fulfilling career, having interned at a Michelin-star restaurant in Italy under the wing of world-famous chef and restaurateur Massimo Botura.

However, like many others impacted by the pandemic, Lee was unable to secure a job.

With the entrepreneurial experiences learned during his time with TCI, Lee set up his own home-based business selling naturally fermented products such as kimchi and tepache. Since then, Lee has seen exponential growth in his business.

“In a short amount of time, I was able to cover my initial investments and still generate a good amount of income until today, ” he shared.

Lee acknowledges that TCI’s industry-driven curriculum has provided students such as himself with the ability to prepare for whatever challenge they may face as they embark on their career – be it as restaurateur, hotelier, chef or even as an entrepreneur.

TCI lecturer Chef Massyittah Omar (left) and University of Toulouse lecturer Chef Pascal Bonnafous at work. The opportunity to collaborate with the right partners, such as the University of Toulouse, gives TCI students experiences that will boost their confidence, learning and overall experience.TCI lecturer Chef Massyittah Omar (left) and University of Toulouse lecturer Chef Pascal Bonnafous at work. The opportunity to collaborate with the right partners, such as the University of Toulouse, gives TCI students experiences that will boost their confidence, learning and overall experience.

Apart from culinary trainings and industry-standard culinary suites, TCI offers dual awards with its longstanding partner Academy of Toulouse, which has opened up opportunities for students to learn under the best chefs, including preparing luxurious dinners alongside Michelin-star chefs who visit Taylor’s University campus.

Find out more about Taylor’s Culinary Institute at https://university.taylors.edu.my/en/study/undergraduate/culinary.html

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