1st edition of Spanish Gastronomy Training Program for Prestigious International Hotel Chains
The main offices of ICEX in Madrid hosted the presentation of diplomas to the participants in the program, all of them Sous Chefs, Executive Chefs and Food&Beverage directors from large international hotel chains.
Text: Foods & Wines from Spain / @ICEX
ICEX’s Chief Executive Officer, Francisco Javier Garzón, handed out the diplomas on May 25th to the first class of students from the “Spanish Gastronomy Training Program for Food & Beverage Managers, Executive Chefs and Sous Chefs from Prestigious International Hotel Chains.” This closing ceremony was also attended by special guest Javier Gutiérrez, a partner and co-founder of the Dani García Group, with a long background in the development of new restaurant projects.
ICEX Spain, Trade and Investment, presented this program last May 7th in San Sebastián. It is the successor to the previous training program, which for the first time has shifted its focus to professionals from prestigious international hotels.
The students completed a two-week on-site course at the internationally renowned Basque Culinary Center, which created a specially-tailored and exclusive program to give the students first-hand experience with the most essential products from Spanish gastronomy, while also working on their practical application to the hotel industry and developing workshops focused on innovation in terms of restaurants, cocktails, breakfast service, customer service, and new trends in hospitality, among other topics.
The participants in this new format have a more senior profile than before, with long professional careers and high-up positions of responsibility.
In this way, ICEX – through Foods and Wines from Spain – seeks to train professionals that hold decision-making and action-taking roles in the selected hotels.
This long-term project aims to establish a solid and lasting relationship with the selected companies or hotel groups, for the purpose of achieving a greater presence of Spanish gastronomy at these hotels in the short to medium-term, with regard to foods, wines and culinary styles associated with both traditional and avant-garde Spanish cuisine. In summary, the ultimate goal is to open new roads and export markets for Spanish agri-food products in what ICEX considers to be priority markets.
8 Food & Beverage Managers, Executive Chefs and Sous Chefs
The eight candidates selected for this first edition of the program represented China, India, Puerto Rico, Poland, the Bahamas, Mexico and the British Virgin Islands. Following that order, the professional participants were: Ken Yu of the Radisson Blue Hotels (Shanghai); Lycia Jiao of the Four Seasons (Shenzhen); Carol Reyes Hernández of the Condado Vanderbilt Boutique Hotel (San Juan, Puerto Rico); Artur Pijanowski of the Hilton Warsaw and Convention Center (Warsaw); Arturo González of the Meliá Nassau Beach (Bahamas); Apolinar Gómez of the Meliá ME Cabo San Lucas (San Juan del Cabo), Ritesh Choudhary of the Taj Majal Palace (Bombay) and Kenneth Molyneaux of the Tropical Fusion Beach (Tortola).
The main selection criteria was the big interest in Spanish gastronomy expressed by these professionals. Some of them have spent time working in Spanish restaurants or tapas bars, but none of them had ever had the opportunity to train in Spain and participate in an in-depth immersion in our gastronomy.
Online training and “discovery” tour in Spain
Another of the changes to the 2018 edition of the program was the introduction of an online training phase prior to the in-person classes at the BCC in San Sebastian. The students were required to complete and satisfy the objectives of the online course Spain’s Pantry and Gastronomy, which began on March 26th and was taught through the CECO-ICEX online platform.
This course was comprised of online content, video conferences / sessions with the professors, and final evaluation tests. The classes were given by first-rate professionals with extensive experience in the areas of Spanish wines and gastronomy.
Likewise, after completing the two-week training period in San Sebastián, the participants embarked on a “discovery tour” of Spanish gastronomic culture through northern Spain, on a route that led from San Sebastián to Cantabria, Galicia and Castile-León, before ending up in Madrid. Along the way they experienced tastings, lunches and dinners centered around local products, as well as examples of both classic and innovative Spanish cuisine. The objective of this trip was, in addition to getting a first-hand look at emblematic products and their applications, to facilitate contact between producers and potential customers. The participants visited teh following food companies and wineries:
Porto Muiños (seaweed)
La Brújula (seafood preserves)
Ramón Peña (seafood preserves)
Cecinas Nieto (cured beef)
Pazo de Señorans (DO Rías Baixas)
Descendientes de J. Palacios (DO Bierzo)
Parador de Santiago de Compostela (Galicia)
Palacio de Canedo (Castile-León)
Caseta de Bombas (Santander, Cantabria)
Abastos 2.0. (Santiago de Compostela, Galicia)
Taberna Do Trasno (Cambados, Galicia)
Mesón de Cándido (Segovia, Castile-León)
The results of this program have been extremely satisfactory. The multiplier effect that these new ambassadors of Spanish gastronomy will have in their home countries will be significant. The next goal is the organization of promotional events with Spanish products, and for the professionals to incorporate the raw materials and ingredients that they have learned about first-hand onto the menus they design for their restaurants.