Wednesday, June 29, 2016

World Class Restaurant Service

WorldSkills Singapore will be held from 7 to 9 July. Also known as the Youth Olympics of Skills, this prestigious event showcases talents in diverse skill areas such as cooking, mechatronics, and graphic design technology. With the event coming up soon, I interviewed two promising competitors who are participating in the Restaurant Service skill area for the very first time.

The skill area requires competitors to identify a range of liqueurs, wines and spirits by sight and smell, mix and serve alcoholic beverages, prepare a range of coffees, dress and set up tables, prepare mise-en-place and folding of napkins, perform carving and tableside cooking, amidst other tasks.

Meet Quek Tian Cheng and Kuah Guo Shan, Diploma in Food & Beverage Business students who were cheerful and eager to answer my questions. We discussed their preparation for the event.

Quek Tian Cheng

Tell us a bit about yourself before we begin

Hi, I’m Tian Cheng. I joined WorldSkills because I thought it would be fun.

NYP has been doing well in past competitions. Do you feel pressured?

The pressure I feel from this is not really pressure from peers and coaches, it is more from myself. I’m constantly pushing myself to work harder and improve because I want to know that I have tried and given my best.

This is the first year NYP is competing in Restaurant Service and Cooking. How do you feel about being amongst the first competitors in this skill area? 

Initially, I had seniors who had participated in WorldSkills so I did not worry too much, but after I found out that none of them had participated in the Restaurant Service and Cooking skill areas, I was quite shocked and felt even more pressured. But it makes me want to give my best even more.

Since you are unable to learn from previous competitors, how have you been preparing?

Actually, there is quite a lot of support given. NYP has called one of my seniors back to help coach us. She has also participated in a related WorldSkills category and has a lot of experience to share. She has taught us many things including napkin folds which may seem unimportant.

Is there any advice you can give to people hoping to compete in WorldSkills?

The best advice I can give is to keep working hard. No matter what the outcome is, you know that you have given your best, and that itself makes you a winner.

Kuah Guo Shan

Tell us a bit about yourself before we begin.

Hi I’m Guo Shan, 19 years old. In the Food &Beverage Business course, I had the chance to choose between the cooking and business specialisation and, I chose the latter. This option touches more on managing a restaurant, front of house service and ordering.

This is quite a prestigious event, and NYP has been doing well in past competitions. Do you feel pressured?

Of course! I think a certain kind of pressure is good. The pressure given now is not too much but enough to motivate me to do better. Currently I feel fine and am managing well.

I feel that NYP has its own way of doing things that is different from other polytechnics, and provides more hands on experience. It encourages teamwork through team projects, and also encourages us to be more innovative in our assignments.

This is the first year that NYP is competing in Restaurant Service and Cooking. How do you feel about being amongst the first competitors in this skill area? 

I actually feel quite honoured to be among the first from NYP to compete in this area. I know a senior who is a Worldskills gold medalist but he’s from ITE. He has given me useful pointers and I’m really grateful for that. I feel that we are setting the benchmark for the next set of competitors. Whether we win or lose, I want to help NYP make an impression during the competition.

So you’re saying this is about leaving a legacy?

Yes, something like that.

I’m glad there is immense support for you. How have you been preparing?

I’m really glad to have lecturers who helped us prepare the ingredients and equipment needed. Sometimes they did it out of their own pockets. They bought us wine and vinegar required for the competition, and are also helping us to train properly.

Do you mind sharing their names with us?

They are Mr Karthik Bakthavathsalem, Mr Paul Singh Gill and Chef Jek Ralphael.

Is there any advice you can give to people hoping to compete in WorldSkills?

It’s mostly about being mentally prepared. Since we are going for the competition soon, time management and commitment are very important. Being mentally prepared is one of the highest priorities. No matter how much you practice, if you’re not mentally prepared, most of your effort will go down the drain.

So are you mentally prepared?

Yes. I’ve done some mental training myself. I picture myself doing what I need to do, many people looking at me and managing myself there.

Anything you would like to add?

Good luck to all the other NYP WorldSkills competitors! I hope we will do NYP and ourselves proud.
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Be sure to give our competitors some support if you see them!

By Matthew Ho, Year 1, Diploma in Cyber Security and Forensics

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