Convection steamer, petits four and consomme: what future chefs study at Moscow colleges

October 25

On October 20, the International Cook's Day is celebrated all over the world. There are thousands of cafes, restaurants, canteens in Moscow today, where chefs feed Muscovites and guests of the capital every day. For the city, the catering industry has long become one of the business hallmarks, and last week a landmark event took place for the entire sphere — the capital's restaurants received Michelin stars. The Moscow chefs professionality has now been confirmed by international experts, which, of course, will increase the prestige of the profession. Even today, many guys dream of becoming chefs. About how the capital's colleges prepare future cooks and pastry cooks - in the material

Processing fish, making cake

There are 50 educational organizations in the capital, where young Muscovites study in secondary vocational education programs. In 12 of them, you can get the profession of a cook, as well as a cook and a pastry cook at the same time. Today, eight thousand college students study in this specialty in Moscow.

Svetlana Spiridonova, a teacher of educational and industrial practice in the technology of public catering products specialty at the Service College No. 10, said that much of the curriculum is focused on hands-on activities. This allows you to immediately introduce future cooks to the tricks of the trade and teach them without isolation from the industry.

"Students' education is divided into theory and practice — educational and industrial. After the theoretical module, the students take a demonstration exam according to WorldSkills standards in the laboratories of the college. They are equipped with state-of-the-art technology — we have it better now than in some restaurants. By practicing on modern equipment, students will not "get lost” even in the newest kitchen. Having successfully passed the internal exam, students go to practice in restaurants and hotels in the cook and pastry cook specialty," Svetlana Spiridonova explained.

In the course of training, students are got acquainted with both cooking and confectionery. For example, they undergo modules not only for the primary processing of vegetables, meat, fish, cooking hot dishes and sauces, but also making bakery products, creams, cakes and sweets.

Светлана Спиридонова

Future cooks are provided with equipment almost as thoroughly as scientists in testing laboratories. Convection steamers (thermal cabinets in which food is steamed and with the help of hot air circulation), induction cookers, production tables, vacuum pouch sealer, food printers, multimixers are only a small part of what awaits students in colleges. Such equipment is necessary for full-cycle work: from preparation and cooking to serving dishes.

Svetlana Spiridonova stressed that the teachers' master classes did not stop, even when the students were on distance learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order not to interrupt practical classes, the college provided students with toolboxes — special sets of products that were given out for home classes. Mentors cooked meals in college kitchens, and students did it at home — teachers watched the process via video link.

Varvara Panasyuk, a student of the Service College No. 3 in the cooking and confectionery specialty, is sure that a lot of practice is a serious advantage of studying at college.

"The big benefit is that we feel the profession. We and our teachers always discuss the dishes we prepare and, of course, we do an internship in restaurants. We find out a lot of new things, look for non-standard approaches. We had an interesting topic regarding combining things that don't mix: meat with sweet sauces or combinations of unusual side dishes. In college, we study new techniques and learn how to work with a state-of-art equipment. There are unique courses — you won't find such knowledge on the Internet," she said.

However, not only students improve their knowledge and skills — college teachers also regularly attend master classes, courses and advanced training seminars. The more they are involved in cooking trends, the more they will be able to pass on to their students. According to Svetlana Spiridonova, she also recently mastered a trend competence — cooking ice cream on a freezer, a special cold plate.

Cook's prestige

Last year, the cook and pastry cook were included in the list of the 50 most popular and promising professions requiring secondary vocational education. These professions are popular, among other things, because a large number of food outlet continue to be opened in Moscow. As for key indicators, the economy of the capital has exceeded the level of not only 2020, but also the pre-pandemic 2019.

With the growing demand for cooks, not only the prestige of the profession is growing, but also the quality of education, Gleb Geiger, brand-chef, graduate of the ‘Tsaritsyno’ Moscow College of Management, Hotel Business and Information Technology, believes.

"Education has become more qualitative, they no longer teach us how to cook like in canteens, but teach us something interesting, tell us how to create new dishes, invite chefs with unique experience. Naturally, you cling to it, start to get interested and immerse yourself in the profession. Over the past 10 years, everything has changed in the restaurant industry: small food outlets with an average bill began to appear, comfortable for many. We have made a huge leap," the brand-chef added.

According to Gleb Geiger, college education gave him many advantages: a general understanding of catering and kitchen work, systematization of knowledge, leadership skills development and even practice in Italy.

"When I was entering the college, the profession was not so popular, and today many teenagers want to become cooks. But it's very hard work—" he said. — "The most important thing is to explain people what is happening in the kitchen, to give practice. This is one of the main advantages of learning."

Глеб Гайгер

By the way, 342 centers have been created in the colleges of the capital to conduct a demonstration exam and 45 specialized competence centers — the sites accredited by the WorldSkills Union and meeting the latest global trends.

The student-cooks, Svetlana Spiridonova says, cook three dishes at the demonstration exams: pasta of their own production, hot chicken and dessert. The college invites independent experts, professionals in the service sector, Moscow chefs and hotel managers to evaluate the results. After the exam, students receive a special skills certificate — an additional advantage in employment, confirming the student's demand in the labor market.

Free additional courses also help students to update their skills. Svetlana Spiridonova noted that students can learn how to cook rolls, pizza, new salads, small sweets, as well as competently work with chocolate and mastic, which decorate cakes.

Study, work and create

WorldSkills championships have become an important part of secondary vocational education, where young professionals try their hand, gain new experience and fight for the title of the best in their competence. In 2021, more than 450 college students and schoolchildren were preparing for the upcoming open championship of professional skills "Moscow Masters" according to WorldSkills Russia standards in the competencies "Cooking" and "Confectionery" in the capital. The Moscow national team in the final of the IX National Championship ‘Young Professionals’ (WorldSkills Russia) became the absolute champion — it has 236 medals in its collection. One of the winners is Varvara Panasyuk — gold medalist of the national final in the Confectionery competence.

"We were offered to participate in the competition by teachers, they gave an impetus. I acceded. Initially, I was qualified in college, then in Moscow and reached the national championship. With its authority, the competition helps a lot in your career. When employers see that a person participated in the championship, this is a signal for them: a specialist has not only knowledge, but also practical skills. We can say that this is a confirmation of the professionality every pastry cook should have," Varvara Panasyuk added.

Варвара Панасюĸ

Dmitry Manshin is still studying at the school of the First Moscow Educational Complex, but has already taken gold in the Cooking competence of the national final of the WorldSkills Russia championship among juniors. Daily trainings, several qualifying stages, work under stressful conditions are the inevitable attributes of the competition, but the most difficult, according to Dmitry Manshin, was getting acquainted with the new equipment in the final. The participants had to prepare a dessert, hot meat, poultry, vinaigrette and consomme (clarified broth).

It was after the championship that the young man realized that he wanted to go to college and study cooking further.

Over the past five years, the first Moscow educational complex has been the leader of the National Championship ‘Young Professionals’ of WorldSkills Russia in the Cooking competence.

"When you accede to participate in the competition, you are trained in college. There is an excellent professional kitchen, good equipment — it is interesting to study, work and, of course, create. I also met some of the teachers — they are sociable, responsive, and it feels they are real professionals. After the competition, you come out with a lot of experience and self-confidence. I realized I'm going to enter to college, where I trained. I hope to get a decent education in order to master the profession further, to prepare the basis for life. I believe that a cook is a prestigious profession if you work with love," Dmitry Manshin says.

Varvara Panasyuk is also sure that immersiveness is one of the most important things in the profession of cooks and pastry cooks.

"The main thing is the love of craft, because without it the importance of what you do disappears" the student noted. “No matter how difficult it is for me, no matter how bad I feel, when I see the result of what I had in my mind, my soul feels better."


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