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Gulf Gourmet Scholarship: Empowering the future of our industry

Read time: 4 Min
United Arab Emirates, 25th March 2016

CCA Dubai Culinary Scholarship, the One Million Dirham continuing education award for UAE young industry chefs, a first-of-its-kind industry scholarship programme has now progressed through 70 per cent of its journey of knowledge, empowering its first batch of 25 deserving upcoming culinary talent.

The scholarship is being executed in strategic partnership with the Emirates Culinary Guild, World Association of Chefs Societies (WorldChefs ) – Young Chefs, and City & Guilds, London.

The 52 week ‘Day Release Programme’, which is ICCA Dubai’s International Chef Training Program (ICTP) with City & Guilds, International Vocational Qualification (IVQ) Level 2 Diploma in Food Preparation & Culinary Arts (8065- 02), is progressing well and empowering candidates to move to the next level in the world of culinary, by providing a unique learning experience through hands-on training delivered by the most experienced Chefs in the industry.

This comprehensive and intensive training program focuses on training and equipping the scholarship student Chefs with the knowledge, skills and best practices aligned to industry needs for quality delivery.

Chef Andy Cuthbert, Chairman ECG & Young Chefs Development Team for WorldChefs and Chef Uwe Micheel, President of ECG are delighted with the impact that the programme is having on the candidates. The evidence is clear from the passion and commitment that the candidates are showing towards the programme and from the increased levels of confidence that has changed their outlook towards their profession and themselves.

This hands-on and dedicated scholarship programme has not only broadened their opportunities, but has also uplifted the quality of output at the work environment. “When I started my scholarship programme, I thought I knew it all, as I had worked with so many hotels before and was now getting to learn the very basics of culinary at the school. It has been very beneficial for me to have a walkthrough the basics, it makes me feel more confident to put things to work in the kitchen now,” says Abdul Hamid Raddawi, Sous Chef, Marriott Courtyard Hotel.

The programme started right from
the very basics, with most candidates expressing the immense benefits of learning the fundamentals of culinary.
It is helping them to deal with their current work, with a lot more application of knowledge and also giving a clear understanding of what is being done. “Learning while I am working is helping me a lot, especially when I am going through the basics again. This opportunity, is not only building up my confidence but I am also able to help my colleagues in the kitchen,” says Pradnya Nikam from Radisson Blu Hotel, Deira Creek.

The program has provided a tremendous source of knowledge support to the candidates, as most of them are not from a culinary school background and have learnt or are still learning on their jobs from senior chefs and colleagues.

Michelle Asiddao Gabay from Emirates Flight Catering says, “I have never been to a culinary school before and I started working in the kitchen by peeling potatoes and onions when I was doing the job of a waitress. As I never had a chance to get a qualification in culinary before, it is great to have this opportunity to earn my professional qualification now while I am working. I feel so blessed that I have been selected for this programme by the selection panel and thankful to my Executive Chef for nominating me for this scholarship programme.”

For some, the scholarship programme is a great way to earn a qualification while working, but for others it’s a lifetime dream come true. “The scholarship programme has changed many things in my professional life. I got promoted at work after joining the course, and the best part is the senior chefs have trust in my work and ask me to share my knowledge with my fellow kitchen mates. This is nothing less than a dream come true,” says Jennah Sanchez from Atlantis The Palm.

The training is application focused with emphasis on commercial cookery skills, product creativity, presentation, multitasking abilities, interpersonal skills, supervisory and leadership strength required for the industry.

“Every Tuesday when I come to ICCA Dubai for the scholarship programme classes, I get to know something new which I did not know before. I am more confident now when I am in the kitchen by gaining more knowledge in a systematic way,” says Chammika Perera, Radisson Blu Hotel, Deira Creek.

The candidates driven by passion for food and for the industry have been further strengthened by this programme. “My mom’s cooking skills inspired me to choose culinary as my career, and also I think ‘Chef’ is a very small word but at the same time it’s very powerful and I feel really proud when someone calls me ‘Chef’”, says Ajit Paste, Demi Chef De Parte, Media One Hotel.

If it is mom for Ajit, then it is Dad for Mithun Chamika, Demi Chef De Parte, Radisson Blu Hotel, Deira Creek. For Mithun, cooking came naturally. His father being the first chef in the family, he followed in his father’s footsteps.

Chef Mithun Chamika, ‘Best Chef of the Year’ at the La Cuisine Du SIAL Abu Dhabi 2015 sees this scholarship programme as the best opportunity he has got in his life, which he thinks will open many more doors for him around the world.

Top of the line guest lecturers and trainers from the industry who have taken classes for the candidates so far include; Christian Gradnitzer (Madinat Jumeirah), Sascha Triemer (Atlantis the Palm), Michael Kitts (Emirates Academy), Sebastian Nohse (JW Marriott Marquis), Osama El Sayed (Celebrity Chef), Harald Oberender (DWTC), Thomas Haller (Nestle Professional Middle East), Patrick Bischoff (Cleveland, Abu Dhabi), Marco Torasso (Grosvenor House), KAC Prasad (Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort), Nugraha Wardhana (Banyan Tree), Dirk Haltenhof (Madinat Jumeirah) and Suriya Abeysekara (Radisson Blu), along with ICCA’s Chef instructors
Daniel Hiltbrunner, Aziz Rajab, Vinod Radhakrishnan, Ashwini Kumar, Francois Giussani and Marco J Morana.

The programme is now gathering more momentum as the candidates are feeling more confident about the application of their knowledge and skills, and are dreaming big about their future as great industry chefs.


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