“Why did you choose this career, hospitality?” This is a question that never ceases to spring up each time I meet someone new. Be it at a social gathering, media interview, a job interview or even those moments in bed when you are by yourself and thinking, why did I choose this field?
I have been studying and working in this industry for almost 3 years now and if there is one thing I am absolutely certain of, it is that my answer has changed each time someone has asked me that question. But this change is good. As I spend more days learning and experiencing the hotel industry, I find more positive things that make me realize why I am following this path.It’s like when you’re fresh in love and each time you learn something new about your partner it just makes you fall for them even more!
My winter break from university studies involved a really interesting week of culinary training under Chef Markus Kalberer in Jordan. This was followed by by an amazing experience the next week while competing in India at the international Young Chef Olympiad. I spent a week and a few days training in theRoyal Academy of Culinary Arts in Jordan under Chef Markus, where I had this amazing opportunity to be mentored directly by him. Despite the fact that this training pretty much took away all my daylight hours in Amman, I still managed to meet some great people and build everlasting relationships while there. From friends, you meet friends of friends and the circle keeps increasing
The Young Chef Olympiad hosted 50 countries from around the world who were represented by some of the best hospitality/culinary schools of the world. During the competition I learned that humans are funny animals. They love groups and they hate change. They like to stick to what they know. And then, in the midst of these creatures of habit, there are hospitality professionals. Their life is about change and exploring new avenues. And this experience at the Young Chef Olympiad was nothing different. Having already lived and studied in an environment with more than 60 nationalities on the campus of Les Roches Marbella, it wasn’t much of a task to mingle with the 49 other countries that were competing alongside me in India.
On the inauguration of the competition, Celebrity Chef Shaun Kenworthy said, “forget about the competition until the hour before you start cooking. Focus on making relationships for life. You never know, some of you could even find the love of your life here! Cherish each moment you have.” And that is exactly what we did. Sometimes, some people in the heat of the moment forget what they have around them and what I had at that time were 49 extremely talented young and vaired chefs; from one who was only 18 years old to someone who was 23; all under one roof. This meant, 49 different cultures, 49 different styles of cooking, all plating in their own way, each with individual personalities, 49 different approaches to the culinary world, and most importantly, 49 people who love and nurture a passion for food.
Unfortunately, as winning and losing always takes place in a competition, one of my close friends from UAE (who grew even closer to me during the week of competition in India) came in the second place! Was I sad that I didn’t make it? Yes, of course. But I was much happier to have had the opportunity to meet so many talented people in the span of just 2 weeks. It’s been a little less than a month since we all left the competition and its not the memory of loss or win that comes to my mind when I think of those 2 weeks. It is the memory of the amazing and fun times that I had with all the people I met.
And yet again, my answer after this experience has changed. So, “Why did you choose this career. Hospitality?” And this time I say to create amazing experiences with people and everlasting memories with them.