For those in the northern hemisphere January can be seen as the cruellest month. Short, dark, cold days, tax returns and the Easter holidays still months away. This newsletter highlights two items to encourage your curiosity and in the first, provide a smile.
The first article is reprinted from eHotelier and highlights how good PR can be achieved from what seems to be a relatively simple, noncontroversial activity, the mathematics that can be applied to producing the perfect roast potato. The publicity this has generated for the Edge Hotel School has reached as far as New Zealand and has received thousands of comments including a significant number from professional chefs. It has resulted in the students of the Edge Hotel School challenging the internationally known chef Heston Blumenthal to try their method to modify his recipe for producing the “perfect roast potato”.
The second article could be considered to be another challenge. This is the challenge of how we as educators should be innovating in developing our hospitality management curricula. This article is a review of the recently published book “Innovation in Hospitality Education: Anticipating the Educational Needs of a Changing Profession” in which one chapter has been devoted to the concepts and ideas that underpinned the development of the Edge Hotel School.
Both articles highlight the need and the opportunity in challenging convention. Themes that will I am sure, be of interest to EUHOFA members.
In Search of the Perfect Roast Potato – The edge Hotel School Method
Always in search of perfection, students at the Edge Hotel School have identified the exact formula for the perfect roast potato. Working with mathematics students from the Samuel Whitbread Academy, they have devised a method of cutting the potato that increased the surface area by 65% producing a roast potato, that in consumer tests, has shown improvements in taste, crunch and visual appeal.
The students took Heston Blumenthal’s 7 step method for producing the perfect roast potato and have now added another step or modification. According to Heston’s book “In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics” you should “Cut the potatoes into quarters (the quartering is important because it’s the edges that get nice and crunchy, that’s why reasonably large potatoes are needed for this recipe)”. This is shown in the illustration of the traditional method.
The new “Edge Cut” slices the potato at a 30° angle as shown in the Edge method illustration. This method has
not only been proven mathematically by the student researchers, but also in the results of consumer and professional chefs research that indicated a preference for potatoes cut using the new method. Not only does this cut improve the surface area but it also creates longer edges, which as Heston Blumenthal says, “is important because it’s the edges that get nice and crunchy”.
This significant finding has had reverberations worldwide. It has been reported in all of the mainstream media in the UK, appeared on two television channels, and has now been picked up with media reports in the United States, Greece, Italy, Indonesia and New Zealand. One UK newspaper, The Sun, did a comparative test following the roast potato recipes of well-known television chefs, Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson as well as Heston Blumenthal. The verdict on the Edge Method was “A sensation. Super crispy, fluffy and fairly easy to prepare.”
Adrian Martin, Vice Principal of the hotel school, in commenting on the research and the findings said ” on all measures the new cut potato scores higher”. It is reported that several chefs across the UK have already started emulating the “Edge Hotel School Method”.
The students, in their YouTube video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4InAFfvuDrg ) which has already received over 28,000 views and increasing at over a thousand a day, have challenged Heston Blumenthal to modify his recipes to incorporate their new Edge Cut and offered to carry out further research on any other aspects of his work. This is an example of how students are encouraged to think laterally and to challenge and test convention.
This idea may in time revolutionise the way people roast potatoes, but more widely it demonstrates the philosophy that underpins the Edge Hotel School, where students can make and do make a very significant contribution to the future of the industry.
The challenge to EUHOFA member schools is to conduct your own research to evaluate the new method and to report back your findings, perhaps at a special session at this year’s Congress, being held at EHL Lausanne in November.
Innovation In Hospitality Education
This is a new book, just published, that should make a significant contribution to the contemporary thinking on new developments and innovation in hospitality education. Edited by three academics from The Hotel School, The Hague, the book contains contributions from senior academics and industrialists from around the world. The book, is one of a series, published by Springer, that promotes discussion and debate on the pedagogical issues that arise in the context of innovation and change in professional education.
This book, subtitled, “Anticipating the educational needs of a changing profession” brings together a wide range of innovations and issues that are facing the increasingly changing world of hospitality education. By highlighting the increasing complexity of the industry, the authors recognise that a much higher and constant level of curriculum development is now required than perhaps was required in the past. The book sets out to address three interrelated themes; the globalised digitised developments that are revolutionising the industry’s business models, the changing dynamics of how hotel schools are embedded within their own countries and international education systems, and finally the changing paradigms of how hotel schools teach and students learn.
The book starts with the premise that hospitality management professionals are not amongst those forecast to disappear with the evolution and changes in consumer behaviour and advances in artificial intelligence and robotics. It takes some comfort from the projections that indicate travel and hospitality, as industries, will continue to grow. The corollary of that growth will be the need for, greater specialist understanding and skills in dealing with the rapid advances in technology, whilst maintaining the essentials of hospitality. That is being “hospitable” and delivering the authentic human contacts that are at the heart of the hospitality industry.
In addressing the interrelated themes of the book, the initial discussion focuses on redefining the hospitality paradigms and exploring how the focus of hospitality is often both “pulled” and “pushed” into competing and conflicting directions. It goes on to suggest that the content of hospitality courses need to be considered not just as “applied” management but in the designing and delivering of the hospitality experience. This suggests a broader curriculum base than is often found.
The next section considers the design of the curriculum through suggesting more experimentation in content, design and delivery whilst ensuring that the central question of “how can we develop genuinely hospitable behaviour” remains a central focus. This idea of developing “hospitableness” goes beyond the script and requires hotel schools in themselves to consider if they are genuinely hospitable. If the schools do not have the characteristics and traits of being hospitable how can they develop the authentic hospitable voice within their curriculum and their students. This approach puts students more at the centre of the curriculum rather than the “input driven” model based on applying management subjects. Students are changing and taking a more proactive and measured stance in areas such as, the environment, their future aspirations and their roles in society. Such changes should not be ignored in designing the curriculum.
The role of technology in delivering the hospitality product and inter alia the curriculum is a factor of constant change. Keeping pace with that change is important for hospitality educators, both to maintain the currency of those changes within the curriculum and ensure that the students have an awareness of the technological developments and how they will shape their future.
The book goes on to address curriculum innovation and how educators need to maintain the balance between the often competing managerial and educational approaches. Educators are dealing in complex environments needing to satisfy institutional, governmental, academic, research and industry requirements. However curriculum innovation is essential in addressing the challenges of developing students for a future in an internationalised, global, technologically driven, yet essentially people industry.
As the final section of the book relates, one of the keys must be to engender in students and educators the philosophy of lifelong learning through continuous investment in education and training. Investment in any other asset creates value, whilst investing in people is seen as a cost. Investing in professional development by the industry and the individual is an essential and significantly adds value. Flexibility, the acceptance of change, developing a “mastery” within the profession are clearly essential prerequisites for the future.
This book does exactly what it sets out to, that is, to encourage discussion and debate on the pedagogical issues of professional hospitality education. It does not set out to provide any definitive answers but does provide examples of innovation and ideas that can shape and secure the future of hospitality education.
Innovation in Hospitality Education: Anticipating the Educational Needs of a Changing Profession, Editors Oskam J, Dekker D, Wiegerink K, Springer International Publishing AG 2018