October 23, 2021

Baking With Cheese: 3 Mouthwatering Baked Recipes You Don’t Want to Miss

Starting a career in baking means you’ll have to learn all about the different ingredients commonly used in baked goods. Aside from chocolate, there’s one particular item that has grown in popularity among cake lovers and bakers alike: cheese.

Predating recorded history, cheese was invented by accident. It was born from the early human practice of storing milk in containers made from the stomach of animals. Over the years, this dairy product has become widely popular as the perfect partner for wine products and an ingredient for cooking.

In fact, it is not unusual to find such ingredients in bread and other baked products. As proof, below are three classic recipes that use cheese either as a key ingredient or as an added twist to an all-time favourite.

1. Cheddar Cheese Puffs

Made using a pâte a choux dough, cheddar cheese puffs are mouthwatering bites of cheesy goodness that both children and grown-ups will surely love. This recipe yields about a dozen cheddar cheese puffs, making it perfect for picnics and afternoon snacks.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons or 4 ounces of butter
  • 1 cup of water
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme or rosemary, chopped
  • Pepper, freshly ground (add to taste)

Directions

Put water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce to medium heat and add flour while stirring rapidly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the saucepan.

Remove from heat and leave to cool for several minutes. Don’t forget to stir occasionally to ensure the even cooling of the dough. Keep doing this until it is still sufficiently warm but not too hot to cook eggs, which you will soon add into the mixture.

Put the eggs one at a time. Stir after every addition using a mixer or by hand using a wooden spoon until it is thoroughly mixed and reaches a creamy consistency.

Next, mix in thyme, grated cheese, and some freshly ground pepper.

While preheating the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, scoop dough using a spoon to create small balls and arrange on a parchment- or silicone-lined baking sheet at least one inch apart.

Bake in the oven for ten minutes. After the time is up, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit before cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until it turns light gold and puffed up.

 

2. Ham and Cheese Pizza

This recipe reimagines the classic sandwich as a cheesy pizza, with a sweet and crisp twist. It has a carefully balanced, rich taste and a palate-friendly combination of savoury ham, gooey cheese, and delicious Fuji apple.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil, divided into 3 teaspoons
  • 4 ounces of fresh baby spinach
  • 1 (about 8 ounces) pre-baked pizza, preferably thin-crust
  • ¼ cup low-sodium marinara sauce
  • 4 ounces of low-sodium deli ham, diced
  • Half-cup (or about 2 ounces) of reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn
  • Half-cup julienne-cut Fuji apple (the size of matchsticks)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions

While preheating the oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit, heat a teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in spinach, stir frequently and cook until completely wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Put the pizza crust on parchment paper and evenly spread marinara sauce over it. Then, arrange the ham, spinach, mozzarella, and cheddar over it.

Place the parchment-lined pizza directly on the oven rack and bake for nine minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure that the cheese has melted or has begun to brown before removing it from the oven.

After taking it out of the oven, top with peppers and apple before drizzling with the remaining oil (about two teaspoons). Finally, cut into eight wedges or as preferred.

 

3. Baked Macaroni With Mortadella and Mozzarella

Love mac ‘n cheese? This recipe gives the crowd-favourite a comforting Italian twist using mortadella and fresh mozzarella.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound pork, ground
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • A generous pinch of red pepper, crushed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 ounces of elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons of basil, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ pound mortadella, cut into small cubes
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Directions

Heat oil until it simmers in a large saucepan. Sauté garlic and onion over moderately high heat for four minutes or until softened. Add the meat and cook until browned for about ten minutes. Make sure to break up the pork when cooking. 

Next, pour wine and cook until it evaporates after about three minutes. Toss in crushed red pepper, tomatoes, and a generous pinch of salt before bringing to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat with continuous stirring until thickened.

In a small saucepan, boil the eggs over medium-high heat for eight minutes. Then drain the water and cool the eggs under running water before peeling. Chop finely.

While preheating the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, cook macaroni on salted boiling water until al dente. Drain well. Then, stir it into the sauce with the parsley, basil, mortadella, eggs, and ¾ cups of mozzarella, and ¾ cups of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Transfer into a three-quart ceramic baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano and mozzarella. Finally, bake for about 25 minutes and set aside for five minutes before serving.

For the Love of Cheese

Children of all ages love cheese, and you’re probably not an exception. 

Whether you’re honing your skills at a baking school or simply enjoying cooking with cheese, consider serving your family and friends some cheesy goodness with the recipes listed in this article.

July 18, 2021

5 exciting culinary careers you can explore

We’ve all read about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the hotel and restaurant industry around the world. But there’s a silver lining: despite the widespread repercussions, the region’s F&B industry is on the uptick. Even in 2020, more than 1,300 new restaurants opened in Dubai according to the emirate’s Municipality – that’s nearly 3.5 new openings every day of the year! What’s more, the total number of food establishments in Dubai is expected to cross the 20,000 marks by October 2021!1

This only goes to show that, if you’re interested in pursuing a culinary career, there are a lot of opportunities out there. Whether you’re a passionate home cook, someone who wants to start a career in the hospitality industry, looking to switch jobs or even move up in your professional career, the food industry beckons. Let’s dig a little deeper.

How do you get a job in the food industry?

Just like every other field, the food industry also requires some professional qualifications or certifications before you can be eligible to work in a hotel or restaurant or start a homemade food business of your own.

Discover what qualifications you need to become a chef.

The best place to get yourself one of those qualifications is a certified culinary school or institute. There are a variety of programs you can choose from, including diplomas, certificate courses and even weekend courses.

Explore ICCA Dubai’s acclaimed cooking courses.

Once you’re armed with the relevant qualifications, you need to choose what kind of culinary career you’re looking for. The truth is that many of us only think of professional chefs when it comes to a popular job in the food industry – but there’s a whole lot more than that available!

What are the different types of culinary careers?

Here is a list of the most exciting careers you can explore in the F&B and hospitality industries.

  1. Professional Chef: This is the most obvious one for a reason. If you play your cards right, get the required qualifications and are prepared to put in the hard work, then working your way up the ladder to become a professional chef at a top restaurant is one of the best career choices out there. You’ll start off as a commis chef, which is the entry-level position. From there, you’ll progress onto becoming a chef de partie, a sous chef, a chef de cuisine and then eventually, executive chef.
  2. Personal Chef: As the name suggests, this career is for those who want to work with individual clients: think celebrities and top business people who have their own personal chefs to cater to their and their family’s requirements. Personal chefs can work alone or even have a small team of their own.
  3. Caterer: This is another exciting career opportunity. Every major event, celebration or occasion – whether it’s a wedding or a government exhibition – requires the services of a caterer. A caterer needs to have very good organisational and financial management skills, because you’ll be in charge of everything from planning the meals according to your clients’ preferences and dietary requirements, to ordering the ingredients, preparing the food (either live at the venue or in a hired kitchen), organising the dining area/set-up, and cleaning up after the event.
  4. F&B Manager: This is yet another industry role that’s slightly different from being a hands-on chef. Every hotel or resort requires an F&B Manager who is in charge of forecasting, planning, ordering and organising the purchase, delivery and storage of the various food and beverage requirements of the property you’re working for. This is an ideal career choice for those who love food but aren’t particularly focused on working in the kitchen.
  5. Homemade food business: This one’s perfect for those with an entrepreneurial streak in them. Even before the pandemic, home-based food businesses were on the rise. During and after COVID-19, this trend is definitely here to stay as more and more people explore cooking at home. If you’re an excellent home cook, you can explore opportunities to create unique recipes and products which you can then sell right from your home! Of course, this will require some kind of license to operate from home, as well as other infrastructure, such as an extensive cooking set-up, delivery modes, perhaps an e-commerce website so you can sell your products online, etc.

And there you have it! These are just 5 out of a wide variety of careers you can explore in the food industry. Read stories of some of our past students from ICCA Dubai who’ve gone on to become successful foodpreneurs or find wonderful culinary careers around the world.

Got a question about educational qualifications to become a chef? Drop us a line at [email protected] and our team will be more than happy to get in touch with you and help you out! Or you can always visit our campus in Dubai Knowledge Park for a free tour! Call us on 800 CULINARY to book your tour now!

References:

  1. Khaleej Times, Dubai to see 20,000 food venues operating before October 2021

July 18, 2021

From Seed to Cup: Understanding Specialty Coffee

Coffee is one of the most beloved beverages the world over, across cultures, ages and demographics. We think it’s safe to say that a majority of us wouldn’t be able to start our day without a nice, hot, steaming cup of joe. Is it because of the energy boost that caffeine provides us or that it’s an instant mood enhancer? Whatever the reason, coffee has gone from being just a beverage to something else altogether!

These days, however, a rising trend is seeing coffee aficionados delving deeper into speciality blends and taking ever more care with their morning (or evening cuppa)! To understand more, we asked the experts behind ICCA Dubai’s popular Barista Program, and this is what they had to say.

What is specialty coffee?

The term, first coined by Erna Knutsen in Montreuil, France, in 1978, refers to how special geographic microclimates produce beans with unique flavour profiles, which she called ‘speciality coffees’.

These coffees are at their peak and are unlike other coffee because specialty coffee has been grown at the right altitude, at the correct time of year, in the best soil, and then picked at just the perfect time.

Specialty can only occur when everyone involved in the coffee value lifecycle work in harmony to ensure the specialty coffee beans are always well prepared, freshly roasted, and properly brewed, thereby maintaining standards and excellence from start to finish.

The lifecycle

There are several people that work together to bring you specialty coffees, through the lifecycle of the bean. These are:

  1. The farmer

Spending years, possibly generations, refining and perfecting their approach to growing specialty coffee of the highest quality, they hand over only coffees that are free of defects and picked at their peak of ripeness.

  1. The green bean buyer

Someone who can identify quality through cupping or tasting of brewed coffees, a green coffee buyer can be compared to a sommelier, with a palate as distinguished. They play a big role in communicating the grade quality, tasting notes and descriptions about a coffee to the roaster and barista.

  1. The Roaster

Certified, trained, and with hands-on experience, the roaster is responsible to produce specialty level roast profiles. To ensure the highest standard of quality and flavour come through, they must be closely monitored the roasting process and apply scientific principles of heat transfer, thermodynamics and coffee chemistry to produce specialty coffees.

  1. The Barista

The final professional to guarantee that the specialty bean has completed its lifecycle, the Barista is certified through a training program and is highly skilled in brewing equipment, the origin of the coffee bean and how its flavour profiles will be revealed in brewing. It is the duty of the Barista to ensure the coffee is brewed properly to fulfil its specialty promise.

Coffee in the culinary world

Coffee is not limited to being just a beverage; it’s a big deal in the world of culinary as well. It is a popular taste enhancer and flavour used in desserts, cakes, salad dressings and even in meat marinades.

For example, link a particular recipe with coffee shows you a unique use for this amazing bean!

Liked this blog? Follow us on social media to get more such insights! 

July 14, 2021

4 Secrets to Bake the Perfect Loaf Every Single Time

There are few aromas more appetising than that of a freshly baked loaf of bread. Perhaps that explains why baking has exploded in popularity in recent times. The process is simple, the ingredients are easily available, and the effort is not too much.

But there’s also a catch: precisely because the ingredients and method are so simple, even a small mistake can throw things out of whack. Your loaf can turn out dense or flavourless, or break apart like a biscuit.

How to bake the perfect loaf

At ICCA Dubai, we’ve been offering professional and amateur baking courses for 15 years. So, our master chefs are experts in the art of baking bread. We asked them for their secret tips for getting a perfect loaf every time and this is what they had to say.

  1. Use good-quality yeast

Yeast is essential for the bread dough to rise properly. And for that, you need good-quality yeast. It’s always better to test a small batch first to see how the yeast performs. Also, there are different types: active dry and instant yeasts being the most common. You cannot use them interchangeably. So it’s good to spend some time learning more about yeast and seeing what is the best quality yeast available near you. If you have a doubt, ask a local baker or bakery.

  1. Measure accurately (preferably with a weighing scale)

In cooking, you can sometimes play around with ratios and measurements. You can add salt or sugar later, you can adjust as you go along – not too much, of course, but you can still do it. Not so for baking. Baking is an exact science. That’s why our chefs recommend following a baking recipe exactly. Use a weighing scale if you can so you can get everything right to the nearest gram.

  1. Be careful with the temperature of your water

Yeast needs a particular temperature in which to be active. So the temperature of the water you use is crucial. If the water is too hot, you will end up killing the yeast. Too cold and the yeast simply won’t activate. The temperature also depends on how hot it is in your house – a loaf made on a cold winter’s day may turn out different than one baked in peak summer.

  1. Give the dough 2 rises properly

In general, bread doughs need two rises: the first rise after kneading, and the second after shaping. Our chefs say one of the most common mistakes amateur bakers make is getting impatient and interfering with the rise. Once again, the rise time depends on a lot of things: the kind of flour, the type of yeast, the quantity of yeast, how well you’ve kneaded the dough, and of course, the ambient temperature. So you need to give the dough adequate time to finish rising properly both times, else your loaf will not turn out perfect.

With these simple tricks, you can go a long way to perfecting your loaf of bread. Sure, it may take a few tries, but soon you’ll have one recipe that works for you every single time.

If you want to improve your skills, you can consider signing up for an artisanal baking course at our world-renowned campus in Dubai. Get in touch with us today and we’ll give you a free tour of the campus!

And remember to subscribe to ICCA Stockpot, our blog, for more cooking tips and recipes!

July 13, 2021

4 Advantages of Vocational Training vs a College Degree

In a world full of choices when it comes to education, choosing a career path that promises a bright future requires thought. Looking back a few years, it was relatively easier to make that decision as the options available were limited to specific streams and specializations. Today, you have a wide array of options and courses that offer super-specialisations.

Apart from college degrees for mainstream industries like finance, medicine and engineering, there are many Vocational Training Courses that can give you the chance at a lucrative career too.

Here’s an in-depth look into TVET or Technical and Vocational Education Training Programs.

What is TVET?

TVET programs are tertiary education courses that provide industry-related technical skills and training to augment students’ skill sets. The main goal is not to impart theoretical knowledge or gauge students based on exams. Instead, the primary objective is to teach each student the basic skills they need to get a job in their chosen field.

How long has TVET been around?

While its popularity may have boomed recently for various reasons, TVET is not a new thing. It is not even a post-2000s phenomenon. TVET has, Interestingly, been around for a few decades at least.

Many believe that the early IT age of the ’80s and ’90s were the markers for the need for TVET programs and courses. When the IT era started, educational institutions were not yet capable of providing or catering to people who wanted to acquire technical skills and knowledge.

This is why students went to TVET centres to acquire industry-related skills that would help them secure good jobs and progress in their careers.

Which industries does TVET cover?

Today, TVET programs have evolved a lot, and are not restricted to IT alone. Many other industries, such as hospitality, aviation, infrastructure, civil engineering and more also rely on TVET to impart practical skills that a theory-focused collegiate education may not provide.

There are well-established TVET Institutions across the world today that help students gain valuable professional knowledge. This is done by providing a range of internationally recognised and accredited programs that simulate job-specific practical learning and skill-experience to help them better their chances of employment.

4 Advantages of TVET over a College Degree

While we are by no means saying a college degree isn’t worth it, it is definitely important to consider certain advantages that TVET programs offer students, especially those who have chosen careers where on-hand experience and technical know-how matter as much as, if not more than, theoretical knowledge.

So, here are 4 main advantages you get from a TVET Program:

  1. TVET programs are cost-effective

With the cost of college education going up all over the world, there are many eager youths who want to enter an industry but cannot afford a 3- or 4-year college degree from a prestigious institution. TVET Institutes, comparatively, are much more cost-effective for the returns you get.

  1. TVET degrees are as valuable as college degrees

One of the most valuable aspects of going to a prestigious college is that all-important degree, which is recognised and valued by employers worldwide. Well, the good news is that today, properly accredited TVET institutes confer diplomas, certificates and other qualifications that are as widely recognised as a good college degree!

  1. TVET programs are quicker

In a similar vein, most TVET courses are very short. Depending on the depth to which you want to undertake vocational training, some courses can be as short as a few weeks or a few months, as opposed to most college programs, which go on for at least 2 to 4 years.

  1. TVET programs are designed to aid entry into the industry

One of the key drawbacks of college education, especially in developing countries, is that they focus more on theoretical knowledge than hands-on industry applications. This is where TVET courses have a strong advantage. They are specifically designed to make the student employment-ready in their chosen industry. This means the whole course is specifically built around helping you get a job more easily in your preferred field.

How do you choose a TVET Course?

Once you know which industry you want to work in, get a basic understanding of what on-ground skills you will need. At ICCA Dubai, for example, we specialise in accredited courses for those wishing to enter the hospitality industry, either as a chef or as a food entrepreneur.

Once you know which skills you need, identify the correct TVET program that will help you gain those skills.

Then, choose an institute that is well-regarded in its field. You can also choose an institute that is in a popular city because simply being in that geographical location will give you advantages that a more remote location will not.

And last but not least, make sure you apply yourself fully during your course so you can land that dream job fast! All the best!

July 7, 2021

How to Become a Professional Baker in 5 Easy Steps

The COVID-19 pandemic has fuelled a massive rise in home baking. Nearly everywhere you turn, people are baking up a storm in their kitchens! Macarons, bread loaves, cakes, cookies, desserts – even savoury treats like pies and pizzas are galore! And with all this comes the inevitable boom in baking businesses.

So, if you’re one of those who’s been bitten by the baking bug, but don’t know how exactly to convert that passion into a lucrative profession, you’re in luck. Whether you’re a home baker, someone just starting out, or even someone from the industry who wants to branch out on your own, ICCA Dubai is the ideal solution for you.

We are one of the top culinary institutions in the world, and we offer an extensive range of courses for both amateur as well as professional bakers and chefs. Many of our students have gone on to work in some of the most respected hotels in the region, and some of them have even started their own super successful baking businesses!

So now, we’re going to dive deep into how you can become a professional baker.

What you need to do to become a professional baker

If you want to start your own baking business, there are 5 simple steps you need to follow.

  1. Get a professional qualification

No matter how good a baker you are at home, there are some skills and techniques you absolutely need to master if you want to become a pro. After all, at home, if you make a mistake, you can still be proud of your effort. But as a professional, you need to be at the top of your game every day. And the only way to become that good is to take up an amateur or professional course in baking or patisserie

In these courses, you will learn all the baking technicalities, which you will need to make great-tasting bread, cakes, cookies, pastries and more. More importantly, you’ll find this formal foundation very useful once you start developing your own recipes as a professional. If you have questions, get in touch with us and we will be more than happy to guide you.

  1. Consider becoming an apprentice or trainee

Even after you get your professional qualification, you need work experience. Many successful bakers became apprentices or trainees under established bakers, working at stores or restaurants, learning the tricks of the trade.

The opportunity to work alongside experts will help you develop better and more techniques. Another excellent benefit from an apprenticeship program is that industry veterans are very generous in imparting valuable lessons, many of which you cannot find in textbooks. You will also get a sneak peek at how the business operates – and this will be very important to you in future.

  1. Learn business management

Starting your own business requires you to handle a lot of things. You will need to deal with sourcing suppliers, buying ingredients, maybe buying specialised equipment, renting a kitchen, hiring employees, and, last but not least, marketing your product. All this requires some technical knowledge of financial management, employee management, supplier/vendor management, and so on.

You also need to know where you’re going to get the money from to start your business. Are you going to fund it yourself? Opt for crowdfunding? Get family and friends to pitch in? Go to an investor? For all this, doing some research about how to operate a food-related business will go a long way to help you.

  1. Choose a specialisation

You also need to decide exactly what niche you’re going to be operating in. Are you going to bake cakes? Cakes and cookies? Bread? Play to your strengths, but ensure you do not bite off more than you can chew. As a professional baker, you need to be innovative. This way, you'll be able to prevent your menu from becoming stale and keep your offerings relevant, especially if you think about how food trends change so rapidly.

Once you’ve chosen your niche, you can research similar brands in your country or around the world. This way, you can learn how other people made their business work, thus getting some valuable insights for yourself.

  1. Explore additional certifications

There are certain specialised certificates only for baking professionals. When you undergo the process to obtain one, you will not only learn some niche skills but also get a valuable certificate that will enhance your customers’ trust in you. And remember: learning is a never-ending process.

And that’s it! These are the basic steps you need to follow to realise your dream of becoming a professional baker.

If you want a deeper insight, or an opportunity to speak with our chefs and students, please visit our campus in Dubai Knowledge Park, and we’ll be glad to organise a tour for you.

Remember to follow us on Facebook and Instagram so you don’t miss out on any of our exciting stories!

July 4, 2021

What are Smart Hotels? An Essential Primer

The hospitality industry is competitive, so keeping up to date is important to ensure your business delivers the kind of experience people want and expect. And now with the changed priorities of a post-Covid world, hospitality has been undergoing a transformation with the rise of Smart Hotels.

Being a culinary training institute, many of our students go on to work in reputed hotels around the world. And many of those hotels have now added several ‘smart’ features. Let us now understand the basics of what makes a hotel ‘smart’.

What is a smart hotel?                                 

A smart hotel is one that uses internet-connected devices or IoT-connected devices capable of communicating and interacting with one another. Smart hotels are leveraging technology and reinventing how guests and staff connect to create better guest experiences and streamline hotel management systems for their employees.

This concept can also help improve finances by bringing down certain expenses that are part of running a hotel and make it stand out from other traditional hotels and resorts.

Let’s take a look at some of the features of smart hotels.

Common features you can find in a smart hotel

While by no means comprehensive, the below list will give you at least some of the features you’re more likely to see in a smart hotel and how they can help.

  1. Digital Concierge: The use of chatbots or virtual robots to take care of simple requests or provide basic information is a great way to reduce contact with guests, free up staff for more complicated tasks, and reduce some expenses.
  2. Contactless payment: Already in widespread use, contactless payment and access control technologies help lower the need to physically come into contact with high-touch surfaces, like elevator buttons and room keys.
  3. Temperature sensors: These ensure that the room is at the optimum temperature when the guests arrive without staff being utilised to do this physically, saving time and effort. The heating system can also be turned off automatically when the guest checks out, saving energy costs again.
  4. Hotel-branded apps: These protect your guests and staff by reducing face-to-face interactions for tasks like check-in, access, and rewards. Some apps also allow you to book a taxi and request food and drink or extra amenities and even chat with staff if you have any requests or concerns. Last but not least, it adds to the prestige of the hotel that it has its own apps.
  5. In-room voice controls: These allow you to use voice commands to control the lights, heating, TVs, and other devices using a smart speaker with a voice assistant. You can even ask for information about the weather or the news instead of picking up the telephone or going to the front desk.

As technology improves, we will of course see hotels and the wider hospitality industry add to their smart offerings to take advantage of technology and stay ahead of the competition for years to come. We will bring you updates as and when we come across them, so stay tuned to this space.

Remember to follow us on social media to stay up to date with the latest hospitality industry trends!

July 3, 2021

How a professional kitchen is different from a home kitchen

At ICCA Dubai, we have trained thousands of individuals who are passionate about cooking and were seeking to join the hospitality industry. In most of the cases, the students were quite surprised by the vast professional kitchen set-up that we have at our institute so they can get a hands-on cooking experience.

For a layperson, however, it’s not so easy to understand how a restaurant or commercial kitchen is so different from what you have at home. Luckily, our master chefs have taken the time to explain some crucial differences between the two.

Main differences between professional kitchens and home kitchens

To start with, one fundamental difference is in the very purpose of a kitchen’s existence. In short, a residential or home kitchen is meant to cater to the food requirements of one family – perhaps a few guests on occasions, but not every day. You also don’t spend the whole day cooking the same dish again and again at home.

Whereas, a professional kitchen needs to operate for much longer times, sometimes from dawn to midnight, producing food that needs to be top-quality every single time, and which will be eaten by hundreds of people every day.

It is because of this that the professional kitchen set-up is so different compared to a home kitchen.

  1. The layout is designed for multiple people to work together

Unlike a residential kitchen, a professional kitchen often has a large number of people working together at the same time. For the kitchen of a hotel with 200 rooms, for example, there can be as many as 50 people in the kitchen! Therefore, a professional kitchen layout is always designed to accommodate all these people.

  1. There are separate stations for everything

Because such a huge volume of food needs to be cooked, a lot of prep work is required. In a home kitchen, you may cut vegetables on the counter while something is boiling on the stove. But you won’t need to prep one chicken dish, one fish dish, one beef dish, one vegetable dish and one dessert all at the same time! If you did, it would definitely get confusing. That is why professional kitchens always have separate ‘stations’ for different types of food. That way, there is no chance of contamination or the wrong kind of food being prepared.

  1. The equipment used is of a professional scale and quality

A stove you may use at home is not designed to be on for 12 to 16 hours of the day. The same goes for your home oven. Plus, there is simply not enough room for you to cook, say, 10 stir-fries at the same time or 20 pizzas. However, these are an absolute necessity for a professional kitchen, and therefore, all the equipment is also of that robust quality and scale.

  1. It is governed by a lot of rules and regulations

If hundreds of people are going to eat your food every day, health and safety is paramount. If even one person gets food poisoning, the reputation of that restaurant can be ruined forever – and in case a serious complaint is made and investigated, the whole establishment can even be forced to shut down. This is why a professional kitchen is always governed by a lot of rules and regulations. These cover everything from colour-coded knives for working on different types of foods (to avoid cross-contamination and allergens), to how long each type of ingredient can be stored, at what temperatures the refrigeration units should be, how often certain safety checks should be conducted, and so on and so forth. And every single member of the staff should be aware of and comply with all these rules and regulations – all the time.

  1. Industrial level systems will be required to keep the place running

Last but not the least, a professional kitchen cannot make do with a single fan and a fridge. The sheer volume of ingredients and the pace inside the kitchen mean that industrial-level air conditioning, refrigeration, drainage and plumbing systems need to be in place. These are also important because they all have to comply with international and national safety rules and regulations.

These are broadly the main differences between professional and home kitchens. Of course, working in a professional kitchen is vastly different from cooking something at home, no matter how good of a cook you are. If you’re interested in pursuing a culinary career and want to see our student chefs in action in a world-class professional kitchen, just book a tour and we will be glad to show you our award-winning campus!

And remember to follow us on social media so you don’t miss any future updates from our team!

June 30, 2021

5 Best Tips for Building a Future-Proof Culinary Career

There is no denying the fact that the foodservice industry was one of the sectors hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants closed due to lockdown restrictions, caterers were unable to receive orders due to constraints on events, and bars and pubs reluctantly shut down as well.

Even with restrictions easing up, not all businesses in the food and beverage industry returned with a bang, and the ones that did are still experiencing some challenges as they attempt to gain a foothold on the market.

These facts, though, shouldn’t deter you from pursuing your dreams of becoming a certified chef and making it in the culinary world. If you have always wanted to become a savoury or sweet chef or run your own food business, by taking some additional steps, you can have a successful and lucrative career while doing what you love to do, even if there is a crisis.

Here are the five best tips for building a successful culinary career post-COVID-19 and beyond:

1.    Keep learning.

Engaging in continuous learning is something that everyone should do, regardless of their career.

With various trends constantly being introduced and coming out in the gastronomic world, it pays to stay on top of all of them. You can only do this if you keep learning.

If you have completed a chef course in Dubai, don’t stop there. There are other diploma and certificate programmes you can take up to become more versatile in the kitchen.

There is also nothing wrong with going out of your comfort zone. If you are a savoury chef, consider broadening your field and expertise by learning about pastries and sweets. Take up a short course in baking and patisserie so that you can expand your bread and dessert menu.

If you are a pastry chef, you won’t lose anything by learning something about cooking savoury dishes as well. Aside from having a more rounded menu, you can venture into the world of savoury desserts, a trend that is not going anywhere soon.

Keep in mind learning in the field of culinary arts is not only confined to classrooms and kitchens. You can also broaden your knowledge and skills by reading books and blogs of renowned chefs, watching videos, attending conferences and seminars, and joining online cooking classes.

2.    Work on your customer relations and service skills.

Customers are the lifeblood of every business. This is particularly true if you own a restaurant, a catering company, or a home bakery.

Even if you are always in the kitchen, you still have to know the importance of satisfying all customers and getting new ones.

Because of this, you won’t go wrong with finding ways to boost your customer relations and service and networking skills.

Providing exceptional customer service is one of the best ways you can distinguish your business or help it stand out from the competition. It is a tried-and-tested method of attracting more patrons and keeping them loyal.

Comprehensive culinary courses often include customer service and other related subjects or concepts to help students develop the relevant skills. And since experience is a great teacher, take the time to engage with your loyal and new patrons online and personally when they are in your restaurant or shop.

 

3.    Develop entrepreneurial competence.

The pandemic has brought changes in the traditional models of dining in, takeaway, and delivery services. Companies and business owners who were able to adapt to these new methods or implement their own fared better in the past months.

Having the right business skills, therefore, can help you solidify your career in the culinary world.

Working on your creativity and flexibility is a start. However, you also have to back these up with strategic thinking and the ability to execute your vision and plans effectively.

The foodservice industry is always on the lookout for visionary individuals who have the right culinary and business skills. As such, aside from improving your talents inside the kitchen, work on your entrepreneurial competencies as well.

 

4.    Build your financial management skills.

Whether you own a large restaurant chain or operate a home catering company or bakery, and regardless if there is a crisis or not, you need to pay close attention to your finances and manage these efficiently.

Failure to do so can mean disaster for your business.

This means learning about bookkeeping and basic accounting and staying on top of all operating costs to run a profitable restaurant.

If you are a chef, whether you own the company or are working for one, put into good use what you have learned from your cooking certification course by getting the most from all the ingredients you have in your kitchen.

By maximising your supplies and preventing food waste, you are also contributing to the financial health and profitability of your company.

 

5.    Be more tech-savvy.

The pandemic also ushered in just about everyone’s reliance on the Internet. Consumers went online and used apps to order food for takeaway or delivery.

Business owners also had to learn how to use technology to respond to this new consumer behaviour and trend.

Knowing how to use self-service technology, POS, mobile payment platform, website, and social media for various operations in the restaurant can help you run your business more efficiently. These tools also enable you to become at par with or even surpass your competition.

Using them effectively will also go a long way in helping you attract and retain customers. 

With a bit of extra work and dedication, you can have a thriving career in the culinary industry regardless of its status.

Read more articles about starting your journey in the world of culinary arts on our Blog page.

June 28, 2021

5 Simple Steps to Healthier Baking

Baking is a thriving sector in the culinary industry because consumers cannot go without sweet and savoury baked goodies like bread, muffins, cakes, cookies, and other pastries. But with so many health concerns emerging today, people have become more conscious about what they eat.

Some people believe that pastries and other treats cannot be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle. Don’t fret, however, because you can still bake your favourites and help others enjoy their desserts while keeping health and wellness in mind.

Healthy baking doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to develop an entirely new recipe from scratch. In fact, you can already learn how to bake healthier but equally delicious treats from previously successful recipes with the help of pastry chef training courses offered here at ICCA, starting with these five simple steps:

1.   Reduce or Replace Sugar in Your Recipe

Sugar is one of the reasons why pastries and other baked goodies are seen as “unhealthy” foods. Because of this, the easiest way to make your baking healthier is to lower the sugar content.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ll have to stick to bland-tasting cakes and bread. The key is to cut back the amount of confectioners’ sugar by one-fourth of what the recipe calls for. Most of the time, this won’t change the resulting flavour significantly.

But if it does, you have another option: Replace sugar with other natural sweeteners. Incorporating more nutritious ingredients adds more natural sweetness – not to mention more nutrients – to what you’re baking.

Below are some examples of nutritious sugar alternatives:

Fruit Concentrates

When using purees and concentrates bearing natural fruit flavours, decrease the number of liquids in your recipe by three tablespoons. Then, measure 3/4 cup fruit concentrates for every cup of sugar substituted in the recipe.

Take note that this substitution best suits baked goods that call for fruity flavours, like muffins and some cakes.

Maple Syrup

Often used as a topping for pancakes and waffles, maple syrup is also an excellent sweetener. Like fruit concentrates, using this liquid alternative also requires reducing the fluids in the recipe by three tablespoons. The substitution ratio is the same as well: 3/4 cup syrup for every cup of white sugar.

Honey

Like maple syrup, honey is another syrupy sweetener you can use instead of powdered or granulated sugar. It is considered one of the best natural sweeteners that add a rich taste to just about any recipe.

Again, the substitution ratio is 3/4 cup of honey for every cup of white sugar.

2.   Cut Down the Portions

Aside from cutting down sugar, you can also choose to make smaller portions to discourage overeating. This is a strategy recommended to foster healthier eating patterns.

From mini-cupcakes to two-inch square brownies, there are plenty of ways to do this. If you are a cookie enthusiast, you can also reduce the size of every piece by replacing a tablespoon with a teaspoon when scooping the cookie dough. The size of your muffin tin also matters when making mini muffins.

3.   Go for Healthy Fat Substitutes

Fat creates richness and adds moisture to a baked product. However, this ingredient also tends to add more calories than health-conscious people would want in their diet.

Removing high-fat ingredients entirely can result in boring and even inedible products, so you might want to keep some of the fatty ingredients. What you can do instead is substitute the remaining portion with lower-calorie alternatives.

Besides fat-free or low-fat dairy products, you can also add canned pumpkin, a ripe banana, chickpeas, or Greek yoghurt to add moisture and a bit of texture. You should also think about replacing a high-calorie cream cheese frosting with low-fat, higher protein Greek yoghurt.

In some cases, unsaturated spreads also work in place of butter. Besides reducing saturated fat, they also give baked goods a lighter texture, especially in a sponge cake.

If you’re not sure about spreads, you may also opt to use a heart-healthy oil, like canola. This leaves the cake moist but may require some adjustments in the balance of the liquids in the recipe. Don’t take out all the butter for oil, though; you’ll end up sacrificing the cake’s texture.

4.   Experiment with Less Common Flours

Besides sugar and fat, another thing you can substitute in a baking recipe is flour. White flour is most common, but you can choose a higher fibre alternative like whole grain flour to make it healthier.

Whole grain flour is more filling. However, it may come with a slightly nutty flavour, which you can adjust by using half white flour and half whole grain.

You can also experiment with chickpea flour for pancakes and waffles or almond flour for recipes with crusts for a bigger punch of flavour.

5.   Toss in Healthier Additions

Some recipes may not call for fruits and veggies, but you can still toss in these nutritious ingredients to add sweetness and help you cut back on sugar. Plus, they contain fibre that helps with digestion and other vitamins and minerals that boost your immunity.

While they may not be enough to complete the recommended intake of these nutrients, adding them to desserts help keep them healthy and moist.

Innovate with Healthy Baking

Whether you’re a home baker or someone training to become a professional chef, adjusting to trends and innovating recipes is an excellent way to make it big in the baking industry. Try out these simple steps for healthier baking, and share your story and culinary journey at ICCA.

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