Recently I was given an opportunity to tour Taylor's School of Hospitality, Tourism & Culinary Arts (TCHT) during their Campus Preview Day, at their spanking brand new Lakeside Campus. What an eye-opener it was that made me sorely wish I could restart life and start studying again!! Just a hop and a skip away from their old campus at Leisure Commerce Square, the place is huge (27 acres to be exact!) and impressive.
Definitely a lot of thought and care went into the design of the campus, as it follows green principles to conserve energy. Buildings surround a 5.5 acre lake that has a dual purpose: first acting as a cooling system and secondly, as a scenic backdrop for the campus. I can imagine if I was studying here, I'll be sitting by the lake to enjoy the serene calming waters. Other ecologically principles within the building see the connecting tunnels between the lecture theatres designed to capture the wind to give it natural ventilation. There is also a feature on the roof, which conserves rainwater.
Our tour started on a very high note – a wine appreciation class at TCHT's newly minted wine lab. Lead by TCHT's F&B lecturer Reuben Suresh Arthur, we were taken through a tasting of white wine followed by a red wine. Incidentally Reuben boasts an impressive resume - he has a Master of Wine (I can imagine how nice it will be to do that course, drinking wines all the time to pass it), a highly regarded qualification in the wine industry that has also been awarded to well known wine book author Jancis Robinson and Hong Kong wine book author and expert, Jeannie Cho Lee.
Going back to the wine class, I must admit I was very impressed with the design of the 30-seater wine lab with its long white tables and built-in spittoons (a must in wine, since you spit out the wine as too much makes you a little too tipsy to taste the wine). The white colour and the fluorescent lights on the side gives out "daylight" that helps you "see" the wine better to determine the colour and hue - one of the requisite ways to test the wine. Students for TCHT's hospitality and culinary arts programmes go through these wine appreciation classes to develop their palate and knowledge about wines. What a life! I reckon if I had the opportunity to go back to school, this would definitely be my favourite course!
Next, it was another favourite part of my life - a dessert demonstration by TCHT’s Chef Karam helped by Chef Francois at the culinary bar & theatre, called ‘Manifestations’. The talented Chef Karam whipped up a delicious Black forest and Tiramisu that had us all going....aaah! so good. Watching the demostration is also easy at this theatre as they have 2 televisions on top that zooms in when he's prepping up the desserts, thus you don't miss those crucial techniques needed to perfect your Tiramisu or ultimate "pick-me-up". Incidentally for those who are keen bakers, Chef Karam also a part-time pastry course for non-TCHT students on weekends.
Once we were well sated from wine and desserts, we were given a tour around the various "classrooms". To bring in the feel of the hotel and culinary kitchens, TCHT has designed the rooms to resemble hotel receptions and rooms. Thus in the large lecture rooms, you find on one side, a hotel suite set up complete with an attached bathroom (there's even a bed but I doubt you can ever sleep on it!) while the other side is the typical classroom set up with a whiteboard and chairs. This is where students are taught housekeeping techniques, such as how to make the bed properly (I can imagine how difficult it will be to perfect each fold) and even clean the bathroom. Three kinds of concepts are displayed here - urban living; resort and apartment. Other hotel scenarios include front office reception areas where you use a Property Management System (PMS) to learn how to manage reservations. Now I know how the hotel people always seem to know everything about us when we call down to the reception - it's just a click away on their PMS. TCHT also ups the ante of their "live classroom" lectures as they will be opening up a 80-room boutique hotel soon next to the lake that will be made available for the public.
On campus, there are 6 full-service restaurants (definitely plenty to eat here!) where students get to be trained in the kitchen, on the floor and even sample what their friends are cooking. Each restaurant has a different theme - Truffles is trendy fine dining while Thyme and Tarragon is simpler but offers contemporary dining, Tangerine veers towards Asian and boasts an outdoor Deck with lake views, and finally Temptations, a multi-service restaurant that works like Marche restaurant with different counters serving all types of food and beverages. Three mock-up restaurants are also available where first time students can practice there before serving real guests. I only managed to make it to Tangerine that day and the food was really good - my favourite was their daging salai and Northern Indian cuisine. In future, these restaurants will be open to the public to allow the students to practice their new found skills.
I must admit I've always known about TCHT at the back of my mind (it was one of the places I recommended to my Korean friend last year when he wanted a place for his daughter to study) as the place to go for culinary and hospitality studies but this tour definitely opened my mind up to how advanced they have come from 1986 when they first started out and why they're now the largest and most established hospitality school in Southeast Asia. Partnerships with Academie de Toulouse and the University of Toulouse from France, gives you two prestigious qualifications when you graduate - one from France and one from Taylor’s.
What I especially liked is how those who have a passion for food, beverage, hotels or travel will find these programmes very ideal since they involve plenty of practical training - whether in their specially designed classrooms, the actual restaurants and culinary suites or once they are ready, their internship at hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and other service-related organisations. TCHT works closely with a number of organisations so placements are easily arranged and there are even opportunities to train overseas! Some students have even made it to hotels and restaurants in the USA, Maldives, France, etc. While you learn the nitty gritty of the hospitality and tourism world, these courses give you a great grounding to do other things in the service industry.
TCHT offers various academic programmes ranging from certificate to master's degree level in culinary arts, hospitality management, travel & recreation management and events management. Intakes for the different programmes are January, February, April and July. While most of the students are mainly local (60%), you also get to mingle with foreigners who mainly come from Indonesia, China, Vietnam and the Middle East. For more details on the courses, hop over to their website.
Honestly, if I had the monies and of course the time, one wouldn't mind going back to study all this as it's ideal for those who love the whole business about food and hotels or even travel.