Industrial Placement Get KDU’s Culinary Students Ready For The Real World

Ivan Yap Kok Wen (1st left in front row), who completed his industrial placement in a renowned hotel in Germany, together with his former team mates. Wan Noor Elya Binti Wan Razali (left), with her team partners in pastry kitchen during her industrial placement in Hilton PJ.
It has become increasingly common for employers to seek graduates or talents with that extra practical experience under their belt. This is particularly the case for the culinary industry which very much emphasises on hands-on skill and experience. With industrial placement, the assurance for young talents of culinary arts to gain real world experience or even secure a promising position for their future career is very much certain. In line with this, the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts (SHTCA) at KDU University College is determine in equipping its students well for their industry placement, be it local or international.

“At KDU, our culinary programmes are 75% based on practical training in various aspects of the field, with industrial placement as one of the most important components,” said Ms Kitty Lee Kit Eng, Head of SHTCA.

SHTCA is committed to educating, developing and shaping the minds of future hospitality and culinary arts professionals, and championing collaborations with prominent industry partners around the world, with some of the reputable names being Hilton Worldwide, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, AccorHotels, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, just to name a few. These strong placement collaborations goes to show that not only does SHTCA focus on knowledge creation and inspire learning in the classroom and beyond, but also ensure its students are grounded with a strong foundation in industry best practices.

Industrial placement has had a long history in SHTCA. “Industry placement is compulsory for our culinary students. Since SHTCA was established in 1987, we’ve always maintained our collaboration with the industry and place students for internship at many renowned establishments, both local and overseas. We have always received glowing feedback from our industry partners, praising our culinary students on their knowledge, skills and working attitude,” shared Lee.

Besides being guided in selecting their choice for industrial placement, students are also free to choose their placement location via Hospitality Connection (HOSCO), a Switzerland-based leading online recruiting and networking for key players in the hospitality and culinary industries. “This is a network where top international players in the industries meet and interact. The access to HOSCO is exclusively reserved for students from Top 30 hospitality and culinary schools in the world including KDU University College,” stated Lee.

Ivan Yap Kok Wen, a KDU Diploma in Culinary Arts holder, was able to gain an opportunity to complete his industrial placement in Germany. Sharing his experiences abroad, he said, “I was placed in Hotel im Wasserturm, which is one of the best hotels in Köln. During my 6 months there, I alternated working weekly in Restaurant La Vision and Restaurant d^blju. It was difficult at the beginning as I had to adapt to two different styles of the restaurants. Nevertheless, things progressed smoother after two weeks.”

Yap’s culinary skills and knowledge greatly improved during his internship in Germany. “I learned more on how a kitchen operates in reality. The kitchen team there consists of only 5 to 8 kitchen staff, including the Chef de Cuisine. This was great as it gave me real hands-on experience daily as I was taught how to prepare and complete each dish.”
As for the working culture, Yap described, “Though we bonded very well as a working team, but when it was time to straighten up, we worked like soldiers. We work in tandem, all completed smoothly without much verbal communication, and this was something that inspired and probably taught me the most.”

Wan Noor Elya Binti Wan Razali, who graduated from the programme of Bachelor of Culinary Management (Hons) in 2015, completed her internship locally in Hilton Petaling Jaya. “During my 5-month placement in the pastry kitchen at Hilton PJ, I was given the responsibility to take charge on the pastry and bakery work, which stretched from baking to plating, decorating and setting-up of the buffet line. On Valentine’s Day in 2015, my pastries were prominently displayed at the beginning of the buffet line. I was really honoured with the showcase arranged.”

For Elya, her placement experience did not feel like just a requirement, but rather, she blended into the working team pretty well. “The team made me feel very welcomed. It felt really good to have the chef placing trust in me and giving me the freedom to explore my creativity. I was able to put all the skills and knowledge learnt in college into practice. The real working environment had helped me so much in honing my culinary skills,” Elya explained.

So much so that following her graduation, Elya embarked on her grand plans of opening up a restaurant in Kuala Terengganu, and is now the proud owner and chef of The Syrup Vs Soda.  “I am very excited as what I’ve learned in KDU and the experiences I have had with different industrial placements really helped me a lot in running this restaurant.” Elya truly embodies KDU University College’s ethos of being a real world university meeting real world needs by hitting the ground running upon graduation.