The biggest Czech hotel group, CPI Hotels, has turned partner to the educational programme Culinary Arts (CA). The company’s hotels in the Czech Republic have undertaken to co-operate exclusively with secondary vocational schools, which guarantee the introduction of an educational programme on Culinary Arts principles. Teaching within this educational programme in the next three years shall also involve hotel chefs and their deputies. The company announced co-operation at the press conference under the subtitle Training of Cooks in Bohemia, version 2.0. In collaboration with the CA Project, Chef Jiří Roith should ensure the vital quality interlink of theoretical and practical training in schools and practice in hotels and restaurants, where the trainees get their first experience and shape their habits into future employment in the gastronomy industry. At present, the partnership has just accomplished its first month of full operation; from September, the first group of first-year students studying in this programme should get an opportunity to test their newly acquired experience at some of the hotels of the Clarion, Fortuna or Buddha-Bar Hotel Prague brands.
CPI Hotels is thus the first private subject that will offer direct application of specific study material in practice. Apart from more intensive collaboration with the vocational schools, the company is also investing in the education of its own staff, who will undergo a series of 18 professional seminars in CA with objective to unify the procedures that are applied in practice.
“We are long-term encountering the consequences of lack of qualified staff on the gastronomy labour market, regardless of the regions. We decided to actively participate in the solution of the whole situation, lead by example and go the extra mile. As the biggest hotel company and one of the largest employers in this industry, we are aware of our social responsibility. In future, an active role in the education of students is the only opportunity for us to train the future generation of quality employees, and thus also help the entire gastronomy market,” said Jan Kratina, general director CPI Hotels, commenting on the co-operation.
The gaps in the preparation of future gastronomy professionals are perceived by the hotel and restaurant operators across the industry; at present, the trainees are the only labour available to many of them for the worst chores. But CPI Hotels and CA want to change this. “Although hotel schools and vocational schools are churning out graduates, our experience is that they are to a larger extent not prepared for the requirements and conditions of the functioning of professional kitchens. We often take-over their practical training; we must actually teach them many things from the very start, which is really challenging. By meaningfully and systematically joining forces with the professional training schools we hope that in three years’ time the first students to graduate thanks to this collaboration will be ready, but also have greater motivation,” said Michal Hampejs, Corporate Chef CPI Hotels.
Collaboration is based on the implementation of the principles of the Culinary Arts Programme in the Czech gastronomy schools. Already in 60 of the total number of 140 schools, the syllabus has either completely changed according to the CA principles, or it is used as a practical supplement to the lessons. The project has also entered the stage of training pedagogic workers.
The Culinary Arts Programme is accredited by the Ministry of Education as a professional cooking education and training programme, which teaches basic cooking techniques and procedures. Unlike current practice in the Czech vocational education system, which still upholds the concept of teaching specific recipes, it is moving toward the model of the western education system. The graduates of such a programme shall be equipped with knowledge of 70 basic culinary techniques, thanks to which they are capable of employing their creative skills and making the recipes themselves.
“The objective of the Culinary Arts Project is to replace the current practice of obsolete textbooks, which often teach recipes in the same manner as thirty years ago. Approximation to the world gastronomy standard is necessary and this must start in the schools. I am glad that in the two years that we have been active, we have successfully aroused the interest not only of the students and teachers, but also the professional public. Video courses have proved to be key because it is also necessary in this aspect to go with the times and present everything in an interesting way, which speaks to the young people. This is the only way we can have a chance attract their attention and arouse their enthusiasm for the beauties of the culinary trade,” said Jiří Roith, founder of the Culinary Arts Project.
The Culinary Arts ambassadors include many important firms, such as, Perfect Catering & Canteen, Potrefená Husa, Bidvest or Intergast. The conference guests included, for instance, Donald Gyurkovits, president of the Canadian Culinary Federation, Jan Punčochář, Chef Grand Cru, Filip Sajler, Chef and CEO of Perfect Catering, Miroslav Kubec, president of the Chefs Association of the Czech Republic (AKC ČR) or, for instance, Radim Kopecký, Sales Director of Bidvest ČR.
At the close of the press conference, the president of the Chefs Association of the Czech Republic Miroslav Kubec was awarded honorary membership of the Canadian Culinary Federation by its president, Donald Gyurkovits. He subsequently got the same privilege within the Chefs Association of the Czech Republic.