by Jessica Wang, Student – Les Roches Hotel Management School, Switzerland.
I arrived in one of the mysterious cities in China. Indeed, this was the first time I visited this city and that was why I was full of enthusiasm. I took a day off before I started my training in an international branded hotel.
Day 1
At 10am, I went to the pastry department. The chefs were preparing the desserts for the Christmas Day Dinner Buffet. There were strawberry mousse cakes, black forest cakes, green tea cakes, puddings, cookies, cheese cakes and more. They cut and place the cakes on the crystal plate with amazing decoration that made me not want to eat them. The executive chef explained the different type of flours, chocolates, and equipments that were used in the pastry department. Most of the equipments were imported from Germany. Even though I did not have the chance to make the desserts, I learnt through observing. I also looked through the standard recipes for making different kind of desserts; the chefs explained to me about the temperature and the time for baking in the oven. At around 5pm, the chefs and staff members started to arrange the dishes in the restaurant. The hot trays were placed in the middle and the cold trays, and desserts were placed along the two sides.

Day 2
At 9am, I went to the hot and cold kitchen. There were three orders; one of the chefs was preparing two western breakfasts and a bowl of chicken porridge. Another chef was preparing two trays of small bowls of chicken and mushroom soup. A chef was cutting the fruits for the dinner buffet. I just stared at the hands of the chef because he was so fast. The chef also carved the watermelon for decoration. During noon time, I went back to the pastry department. One of the chefs taught me how to make soft bread. Even though making bread might not seen as a difficult job for some people, I found extremely happy because that was the first bread I made by myself. Another chef was making chocolate for decorations. There were dark and white chocolate with different shapes. A chef is making carrot cake. He beat the eggs by hand but not by machine. He told me that not every egg and flour can be beaten by the mixer. Next, he separated the egg white and put the egg yolk aside. He also boiled the sugar so that he can put the egg white and sugar into the mixer. He put a thermometer into the sugar syrup and it started to boil at 78C. After about ten minutes, the sugar syrup was 102C. I helped the chef to brush the chocolate sauce onto the plate and put a muffin on it. Next, I helped the chef to scoop the Haagen Dazs ice cream into the Martini glassware. He demonstrated one to me by scooping one ball of the ice cream into the glassware. After that is to put the strawberry dressing on the ice cream. Put some almond pieces on it, and add some rum raisin around it. Lastly, put a “comma” shape chocolate on top of the ice cream. After finishing this job, I followed them and helped them arranging the dinner buffet.

Day 3
I went to the restaurant at 10am. The Food and Beverage Manager taught me a lesson about service. He told me that service is flexible. Even though the standard is to serve the guest with right side and take away the cutleries from the left side, sometimes it is okay to change to rule according to the guest’s seating. Next, one of the supervisors taught me how to fold napkins. At around 5pm, I followed the staff members and helped them arranging the dinner buffet. Out of my surprise, the supervisor wanted to serve the guests without any specific training after arranging the buffet. There were around 60 guests from the beginning to the end. I was so happy because I did not break any utensils. Lastly, I arranged the all of the utensils on the tables for the next morning.

Day 4
I went back to the pastry department in the morning and the chefs were making orange pudding, tiramisu, and Italian frozen milk. The chefs poured 600g of whipping cream, and 400g of fresh milk to a mixer. Next, they poured 150g of sugar in the pot. They took one orange and wanted only the skin of the orange. The last ingredient was 16 egg yolks. After a few minutes of mixing, they poured it into a pot and boiled it. After that, they used a funnel to pour it into small cups. After a few hours, it turned solid from liquid. After this was the Italian frozen milk. The ingredients were 700g of whipping cream, 300g of fresh milk, 100g of sugar, and 40g of gelatine. Again, they put the ingredients into a mixer expect the gelatine. They grabbed some cold water and put the gelatine in a bowl so that the gelatine can melt. After mixing the ingredients in the mixer, they put them into a pot and started to boil. Lastly, they put the soften gelatine into the pot. The same process repeated the same as the orange pudding; they use the funnel and poured the liquid into small cups and the liquid turned into solid in a few hours time. The last dessert was tiramisu. First, they made a thin layer of cake that is about 0.3 cm thick. Next, they mixed the coffee powder with hot water and poured it over the cake so that it has a coffee flavour. The cream was pre-make yesterday. The chefs used a circle shaped mould and cut the cake out into small circles. First, they put a layer of cream into a small cup that is made of glass, and then they put a layer of coffee cake. Next, they put another layer of cream and then a layer of coffee cake and the last layer of cream. This process repeated three times and the final process was to spray a thin layer of cocoa powder. Later, I went to the restaurant and served the guests. I did not have another opportunity to arrange the utensils because the food and beverage manager wanted me to go back and rest as it was already too late.

Day 5
I went to the Human Resources department. The Human Resources Manager needs to in charge countless documents. Even though this is a small international branded hotel with less than one hundred employees, the Human Resources Manager must make sure that the 5 insurances for employees, the hours of overtime, the days of leave, and the salary are correct without any mistakes. There are many systems this international branded hotel so that the internal people can communicate and know how the hotels are doing even though one of the hotels are in North America, and the other one is in Asia. The manager told me about their brief recruitment procedure. They have two interviews with the candidates. If they passed through the interviews, the hotel will provide on-the-job training for the candidates.

Day 6
I went to the financial, accounting, and purchasing department in the morning. The staff members need to review the room revenue, food and beverage revenue for the last day. They also double check the amount and discover any discrepancies. For the purchasing department, when the kitchen is running out of inventory, the chefs need to tell the executive chef. She will make a purchase order. The purchasing department will call the producers. The local lead time is normally one day. They also have producers from other cities. The lead time takes about one week. When the goods arrive, the people who deliver the goods will put them on the weight individually, and the purchasing manager will look at the weigh and record the weight of the goods. After that, deliverer will put the goods into the kitchen. Lastly, the deliverer and the purchase manager will sign on the purchase order sheet. The yellow sheet is for the deliverer and the pink and white sheets are for the purchasing manager. At the end of the month, the purchasing manager will need to do a periodical inventory count. In the afternoon, I followed them to collect money from Front Office and Food and Beverage departments and deposit them into the bank. In addition, they also need to pay labour, electricity, water, telephone expense to the bank. Lastly, we went to the companies to collect money (account receivable).

Day 7
I went to the Front Office department. They used the Galaxy system which is more detailed and the light speed system. The Front Office Manager told me about the job description of a front office agent. I read through about the standard greetings and saying for this hotel. The front office supervisor taught me how to use the system and demonstrate the process of checking in and checking out a guest. Since most of the guests in this hotel are foreigners, I helped some of the front office employees to so some simple translations when the Front Office Manager and supervisor are not around.

Day 8
I went to Housekeeping department in the morning and Front Office department in the afternoon. The housekeeping supervisor showed me the standard of cleaning at this hotel. Indeed, they have a handbook about cleaning the rooms. Most of the cleaning procedures are the same when I did my practicum at Vancouver because they are under the same management company. I observed one of the room attendants cleaning a standard room and a suite. At around 4pm, I went to the Front Office department; a group of tourists from Shanghai arrived and checked in the hotel. Later, three ladies from Australia arrived too. There was only one front office supervisor at the front desk. I found the people who work at the front desk need not only to multi-task but also be calm and patient.

After 8 days of training at this hotel, I experienced working in hotels is tiring as the hours are too long. However, it is exciting because we get a chance to experience different situation every day. No matter what happens, hotel employees need to smile to the guests. Even though some problems had occurred at the kitchen, the servers and managers need to be calm because they can’t show this to the guests.

Here are some beautiful pictures taken by Jessica…