From Kitchen to Classroom!


Ten chefs from eight leading hotels received Certificates of Achievement on Tuesday, May  21, 2013, marking the completion of a special six weeks Chefs Administrative Skills Course at Monroe College.  This special chefs training forms part of a partnership between the St Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) and Monroe College.

This is the second cohort of chefs to “graduate” from this programme.  Like the first cohort last semester, this second batch of ten chefs exchanged working in their kitchens for seats in classrooms at Monroe College so they could enhance their supervisory skills.

Celebrating its 80th anniversary this year – Founded in 1933 – Monroe College, an Accredited American Institution, opened its St Lucia Campus in 2007, offering degree programs in Business Management, Criminal Justice, Hospitality Management, Information Technology, Public Health, as well as special certificate and diploma programmes.  The college also offers a Master’s degree in Business Management (MBA).

“Monroe College is indeed excited about this growing partnership with the St Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA),” noted Dr Alex Ephrem, Senior Vice President, St Lucia Campus. “We believe that the college is an integral part of the Hospitality/Tourism industry here and therefore we can greatly assist the sector in its growth by taking chefs to the next level of their education as professionals.”

Wendell George, projects assistant, representing the SLHTA, lauded the support of Monroe College and its commitment, he said, “by creating new and innovative curricula”…and allowing the SLHTA in meeting its mandate “to ensure employees (of members) are properly trained and coached, over and over again.”

This is one of several short, non-degree courses Monroe College has designed with the SLHTA.  Other course to be offered in the Chefs Management series are: Teambuilding, Customer Service, Supervision and Leadership in Hospitality, Purchasing For Hospitality, Labour and Cost Control for F&B Professionals, Menu Planning and Design and Food Sanitation and Safety.

According to course facilitator, Winston Benjamin, a professor in Monroe’s Hospitality Management degree programme, the purpose of the chef’s training programme was to enhance the quality of food service delivery. “Many chefs have great kitchen and food related skills, but in order to get the best from those they supervise and work with they must have superior soft skills. We covered a range of people skills and technical skills that will lead to the chefs strengthening and enhancing their management abilities.”

At the certificate awards ceremony on Tuesday, three chefs attested to the effectiveness of the just completed course.  “It was very practical,” said Pauline Eugene of the Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort.  “I am sure my colleague would agree that they too were able to put into practice what we learnt in the classroom almost immediately.”

Chef James Biscette of The Body Holiday, Le Sport praised the other chefs for grasping this opportunity and advised: “Do not stop, just keep moving and through courses like this keep growing.  It can only mean better staff relations and better service for our guests.” And Chef Gilrey Samuel of the Landings, testified: “Being a chef is not a job; it is a career and as such we must continue building our professionalism by taking advantage of opportunities like this offered by Monroe College.

Other chefs in the programme were: Eustace Camille of Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa and Beach Resort, Mickey Sylvester of Sandals La Toc Golf Resort and Spa, Mervin Alfay, Body Holiday, Le Sport, Cornelia Dossery of Marigot Beach Club, Cletus Pierre-Louis, La Haut, Andrew Marquis and Francis George of Smugglers Cove Beach Resort and Spa.

Apart from a review of the expectations for delivering world class service in international cuisine, the 10 chefs either learnt/brushed up on effective communications skills, practiced conflict resolution techniques, and powered-up with IT skills to boost productivity, staff scheduling, and in preparing menus and budgeting.  These were taught within the context of promoting core values of professionalism such as trust, empathy, accountability and compassion.

All subjects were taught by Monroe College faculty.


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