June 25, 2019

The Banquet Kitchen – Planning & Executing A Large Buffet

If you want to keep people happy, keep the food and entertainment rolling!!

Hospitality is one industry where you can do both. The hospitality industry, particularly the F&B segment is a myriad of activities that make up the services offered to the guests.

As a professional belonging to the culinary world, every chef worth his salt needs to be equipped with the know-how of running a successful show. Be it an Ala-carte for an individual or a group of people, or laying out lavish spreads for events and big gatherings, the crux of a good meal and good times spent with family, friends & associates lies in the meticulous planning and the little details that go into making a memorable experience.

Entertainment is alright, but entertainment with an idea behind is much more important. The winning edge lies in fact that every guest loves an event that is customized to suit the occasion. A premeditated and brilliantly executed event provides a truly unique personal experience for guests.

At ICCA, we incorporate this learning for our students as a simulated experience of an event as they would encounter in a working environment. The Graduation Buffet Lunch is a much awaited and looked forward to occasion at the school. For the students it is a day where they get to discover & gain knowledge of what exactly goes in to cater & mass produce to serve a sizeable number of guests. It also presents an opportunity for the student to select food from all corners of the world and various cultural backgrounds. For the guests who are the families & friends of the graduating students, in addition to a few guests from the industry, it is an affair where they get treated to all the food prepared with careful planning and much love.



This is what goes behind the scenes for a Graduation Buffet Lunch at the ICCA:

1. Event Briefing & Team Selection

  • The students are briefed on the upcoming event, the number of people expected at the gathering and information of special invitees if any.
  • The batch is segregated into groups & teams and a team leader appointed for each team along with the Head Chef of the Event. The plan of action is designed so that everyone has clarity on what needs to be done and the responsibility of each member & his contribution to the D-day.

2. Menu Preference & Budgeting

  • The next step is the Budgeting & Costing, an integral activity for planning any event. A clear indication of the monies available to spend & cleverly brainstorming the frugal ways of making the most using the least, is the sign of a successful event. One that leaves both the guests & cost-sheets smiling!
  • Perfecting the Menu is next making sure that there is something to suit every palette. From the welcome drink, salads & starters with accompanying condiments; to the spread of bread, rolls & cheese; the entrées to the live cooking station; and finally to the grand mains. As with any menu or establishment the chefs will take into account any dietary requirements and prepare food accordingly.

Patisserie has its own field time presenting an exquisite and lavish assortment of desserts made to melt the strongest resolve. The display makes one feel guilty of not having indulged in the party should one decide to keep away from the decadent sweet offerings.

3. Execution & Production

  • With the ingredients bought in accordance to the menu options; comes the preparation, the excitement, the supervision, the sometimes unavoidable mishaps, the encouragement, the time-line management for every step in production to make sure that each ingredient is ready for the dish in preparation. The chefs have to be thinking on their feet to face and solve issues as they arise to complete all tasks to the highest standards.
  • The ingredients thus prepared are tagged & stored appropriately for the final finishing on the day of the event.

4. Presentation & Style

  • Food is the only thing we know that makes use of all our senses. We eat first with our eyes and so presentation is the key to get things started on the right note. It is all about the visual appeal and giving a creative thought to what can really add the cherry on the top.
  • Whilst the guests are enjoying the buffet, care needs to be taken that every station is manned and every serving bowl replenished as needed. The chefs themselves form part of the presentation, looking smart and ready to answer any queries put forth by the guests.

5. Guest Experience

Ultimately it is all about guest experience and seeing their face light up after having enjoyed a delicious meal. Good food puts people in a good mood and the applause & appreciation is sure to then follow.

6. The Wrap-Up

The post-show activities are an equally important part of the event to complete the circle. In a buffet there will always be some food that is unused and rather than thrashing it, it’s only prudent that the items that can be salvaged & later utilized be packed & stored away in the manner prescribed, keeping in mind rules around food hygiene & safety.

Boots on the ground and hands on the pan aren’t the only things that one needs to run an impressive show. It takes a lot of action, with a dash of drama and coupled with calmness that only comes through first-hand experience. We push our students in the ring of fire through their training so that when they emerge as graduates you have a chef that knows how to keep the food and entertainment rolling!!


February 23, 2019

Ground Work & Mise-En-Place

A Kitchen is a place of both Order & Chaos; the guests' order and the chaos follows.

Well not necessarily and not always if the groundwork is all well taken care of in advance.

Whereas the front house is a place of quiet, beautiful ambiance that’s very relaxed and inviting; the back of the house, out of the view of the guests, is altogether a different story.

Highly pressured, stressful, noisy and absolutely busy to help the guests get their food on time and of the same quality & consistency as always; all of this can actually be something quite overwhelming if the workplace is not organized well and the groundwork is not properly done & on time.

Most kitchens attribute the quality of the food served and the efficiency of the operations to the hours spent doing the necessary groundwork, where everything is made ready for the actual cooking, much before the doors are opened to the guests.

The French sure did know the importance of having everything in place when they coined the term Mise-en-Place. To be able to put out a perfect meal for several covers each day requires more than just cooking skills. What helps is to get all the ingredients in place and everything required prepared well in advance to make every dish on the Menu planned. Interestingly, one actually needs to slow down to speed up is the principle behind the Mis-en-place.

The key things to keep in mind:

1) All the pieces of cooking equipment, pots, and pans as required to be neatly laid out and in their places to avoid any scampering in between during the main cooking process.

2) Get all the ingredients ready - vegetables diced, sliced or cut to the correct shape & size; the herbs, spices & sauces prepared to specs required; poultry, meat, and fish cleaned & prepared and all neatly laid out in bowls & platters.

3) Last but not the least is to bear in mind is to Clean As You Go! Stacking away the things done with help to minimize the clutter and continuous wipe down the work-stations keeps the area clean, as tidying up keeps one in control, improves kitchen efficiency & productivity.

As the show must go on efficiently & effortlessly, it is very important, that all things are ready & pre- pared well in advance, because when the show gets going there is no time to go back to the basics.

The initial prep is actually the most important, if not the only important activity to get the entire symphony right, from the time of order to service all well-orchestrated and beautifully played out on the highest note.

The Mise-en-place when religiously followed becomes a way of life. For someone who has truly internalized the concept, it becomes a state of mind whereby each task, every situation at work or otherwise is anticipated, weighed in, assigned its value, prioritized and logically carried out to completion for that desired outcome.

For smart trained talent who understand these kitchen basics and fundamentals, ICCA Dubai is the place to go to when you need Commis for your kitchens.

Our smart trained Commis are taught the importance of these kitchen basics and fundamentals so that you get talent that is not only well suited for the kitchen roles but also have imbibed qualities that are beneficial in all walks of life.

Food for thought - Is your kitchen a space of order and well-orchestrated groundwork that adds to the pleasure of working?

Next write-up I will be highlighting another important aspect of chef training at ICCA Dubai, centering on quality, consistency and creating an unparalleled customer experience which ultimately translates to a successful venture.

Do let me know if there is anything in particular that you would like to know about and I will be happy to do a write-up on the same.

Look no further for smart trained talent as Commis Chefs for your Culinary Team...

To meet up and schedule interviews/trade tests for selection, kindly contact -

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: +971 4 457 88 11

Shagufta Patel
People Development Specialist,
ICCA Dubai

February 23, 2019

Food Safety & Kitchen Hygiene

Smart Trained Talent. Commis that you will Love in your Kitchen...

A warm hello, this is Shagufta, the People Development Specialist & Placement Manager at the ICCA Dubai.

I am sure you will agree that recruiting new Team Members and more so ensuring that you are investing in the right person is the #1 concern for any organisation. Getting the best resource shall always remain the top priority for any company.

Driven by our focus that ascertains that you are getting the Right Commis for your kitchen, Smart Trained Talent... Commis that you will Love in your Kitchen is a monthly series that I will be sharing with you, highlighting the attributes that are an absolute must for any new person wanting to work in the kitchen of today.

In the first of the series #1 Food Safety and Kitchen Hygiene, I talk about how we start with imparting the Basic Fundamentals to our student chefs, such that it is ingrained and becomes part of their daily routine.

Are you running or working with any food establishment?

Then it is your moral duty and responsibility towards the customers, to provide them not only with delicious, wholesome & nutritious food, but also food that is safe for them to consume.

Kitchen hygiene and food safety play a key role that impacts not only the reputation of the hotel/ restaurant but also the health of its loyal patrons.

One of the main requisites to ensure Food Safety and Kitchen Hygiene is to have strong and efficient Standard Operating Procedures in place and then an equally impeccably trained staff to follow and carry out those procedures in all earnest. If chefs don't work clean, people can get sick.

With the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) being implemented and forged in all major food establishments here in the UAE, one would think that all eateries would have a comprehensive food safety system in place.

Think again!

Is food safety and kitchen hygiene justified by only a piece of paper that certifies the eatery as being HACCP compliant, or is it the food handlers who are naturally mindful and conscientious of the necessary precautions when being around food that actually define real Food Safety and Kitchen Hygiene?

It is the latter... no brainer that one.

Things like temperature control, state of food while receiving and storing, storage areas, equipment's being in good working condition, being aware of things that could lead to cross contamination, cooking in the right manner, being aware of allergens, the working environment, clean as you go, counter-tops and appliance sanitization, proper garbage disposal and a whole lot of other things.

Proper hands-on training of the highest standards, well sustained practice to help understand and grout the concepts better about proper hygiene and safety is what makes all the difference not only to the quality of food being served but also impacts the reputation of the eatery.

Food for thought- Are the food handlers in your establishment doing the right thing at all times?

Next month I will be highlighting another important aspect of chef training at ICCA Dubai, centering on quality, consistency and creating an unparalleled customer experience which ultimately translates to a successful venture.

Do let me know if there is anything in particular that you would like to know about and I will be happy to do a write-up on the same.

Look no further for smart trained talent as Commis Chefs for your Culinary Team...

To meet up and schedule interviews/trade tests for selection, kindly contact -

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: +971 4 457 88 11

Shagufta Patel
People Development Specialist,
ICCA Dubai

International Centre for Culinary Arts Dubai
Block 8 Dubai Knowledge Park

971 445 78811
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