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EUHOFA Board Monthly Boardletter

Dear Euhofa friends,

I reckon you will all agree with me when I say that safety, food and love are some of the bare necessities of modern life. The same essentials that make for a memorable dining experience. Feeling welcome and comfortable as soon as you step through the doors of a restaurant. A time to relax, unwind and enjoy. Nevertheless, the taste of the food is a guest’s primary concern. It is all about flavour rather than finesse, as Nigella Lawson the famous British TV cook puts it. Isn’t it time for our chefs to go back to basics, allowing food to taste of itself, she continuous. It seems that top chefs are returning to the essence of things. Pure cuisine with simple and authentic ingredients. Sometimes you need to experiment a bit to get to the essence of things again. But the less fuss, the better, isn’t it?

Most Belgian top chefs seem to share this vision and so does cookery school Ter Duinen. After a 4-year

program in which our students receive a proper training in cooking and restaurant serving graduates can opt for a 7th specialisation year in gourmet cooking. A stepping stone to their first jobs in the catering industry because during that one-year program students gain hands-on experience by running their own school bistro, which is called “The Villa”. By means of monthly changing menus we honour former students who are now successfully running their own Michelin-starred restaurant. 2 of our chefs spend an entire day helping at one of these Michelin-starred restaurants run by former students in order to study the latest industry trends. At the end of the day the chefs and the former students decide on the menu they are going to prepare with the students at school. An instant success. It is a unique learning experience for both chefs and students. Our chefs go the field, learn about the latest trends and pass the information on to our students who have the opportunity to prepare star restaurant meals. Diners at “The Villa” are treated to a gourmet menu at an affordable price.

Thanks to this way of working our school can keep its students updated on the latest tendencies in the restaurant industry. Our students get practical, first-hand experience in operating their own restaurant before entering the real world. Forget complicated ingredients, many top chefs are returning to plainness on a plate and prefer simplicity to complexity in the kitchen.

Unfortunately, Belgian has seen a serious drop in students studying food and hospitality. The total number of students enrolling at a Belgian cookery school has decreased by 25% over the last decade. That number makes only 1% of all the students studying in secondary school. Reasons for this downward trend vary from lower wages in the hospitality industry, stricter rules regarding illegal work to long working hours including weekends and holidays.... Nevertheless, our youth has changed as well. Youngsters are willing to work hard when the pay-off seems worth the effort. The majority of them are also seeking a healthy work-life balance improving the quality of life. So the key challenges for the hospitality industry in general involve being creative and innovative. Despite all these efforts to make the catering industry look more appealing, any successful restaurateur knows that it takes hard work and passion to survive and thrive in this wonderful environment. Challenges we are more than willing to accept.

Peter Verbeke,

Directeur Hotelschool Ter Duinen

Koksijde (Belgium)

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