Feelings of deja vu flooded my thoughts as I stepped back into Bluche a few weeks ago. I was away for the first half of this year interning at Penha Longa Luxury Resort in the quaint town of Sintra; located right outside of Lisbon. I spent a third of my internship at the hotel’s lobby bar, and the remainder in the kitchen, receiving training.
A profile of an average guest staying at this 5-star establishment was as follows: a well-seasoned traveller accustomed to the cream of the crop when it came to luxuries, and unhesitant to demand it in its absence.
My first day at the bar was daunting, to say the least. Since this was exclusively a gin bar, my rudimentary tasks included educating myself about the various brands of gin, along with how to create basic gin cocktails.
Unlike restaurants, it is difficult to speculate guest occupancy rates at a bar. Bars by nature are unpredictable outlets and this characteristic proved to be a double-edged sword. Initially, my threshold for this sort of stress was low. I was overwhelmed by the endless orders I had to deliver correctly, and that too, in a timely fashion. However, over my time as a waitress/bartender, I learned to embrace the organised chaos at my workplace, and eventually even thrived on it. I especially enjoyed the constant interaction with guests from all corners of the world, which I missed after my shift to the kitchen.
The main kitchen was probably the hotel’s busiest department. With endless deadlines to be met, I can assure you that there was never a shortage of work to be done. As a kitchen trainee, I requested to be put on a rotational schedule. This meant that I spent approximately equal amounts of time at each of the various culinary departments.
I started at the pizza station of the property’s fine-dining Italian restaurant, where I learned to make ready-to-order pizzas during dinner service. This is also where I established my foundational culinary skills, such as cutting techniques and appropriate storage methods. Now that I’m in BBA 3 (kitchen semester), I definitely hope these skills will come in use during my practical classes!
My favourite department was the Japanese restaurant as this is where I was solely in charge of preparing, cooking and plating 15 tapas-style cold, buffet dishes. I really enjoyed the freedom that I was handed here to explore various methods of plating and garnishing.
During my time in both the breakfast department, and the banqueting and catering department, I learned about mass production of food. I believe that the tasks I completed here will be similar to those I will learn whilst working at Marketplace (the largest buffet-style food outlet at Les Roches).
Finally, I ended my kitchen rotation in the pastry department. I learned to make tiramisu, panna cotta, and varieties of pies, cookies and cakes, to name a few dishes.
Needless to say, I rigorously exercised self-control whilst working in this delicious department!
It was my passion for food and beverage that initially drew me to Les Roches, and more importantly, to hospitality.
Hence, I am very grateful for this hands-on industry experience that Les Roches provided to me.
I can conclude by stating confidentially that not only have I matured as an individual during these 6 months, but also my love for this incredible industry has never been stronger.
Hope all of you are enjoying the remaining days of summer!