Sunjeh Raja, director and CEO, International Centre for Culinary Arts Dubai (ICCA) looks forward to doubling participation in the third ICCA Dubai Culinary Scholarship, set to commence next month
What is the ICCA Dubai Culinary Scholarship?
The ICCA Dubai Culinary Scholarship is an annual one million dirhams continuing education award aimed at educating, training and certifying financially underprivileged young chefs working in the UAE F&B industry. The 52-week day release programme delivers ICCA Dubai’s International Chef Training Programme (ICTP), City & Guilds International Vocational Qualification (IVQ) Level 2 Diploma in Food Preparation and Culinary Arts and is executed in strategic partnership with the Emirates Culinary Guild, City & Guilds London and World Association of Chefs Societies (Worldchefs).
Where do the students come from?
Our programme includes young industry chefs from diverse ethnic backgrounds selected from a long list of applications. They come from hotels and restaurants across the UAE, and in last year’s scholarship, they came from Marriott International, Shakespeare & Co and Emirates Flight Catering among other companies.
What does the programme involve?
A lot of the emphasis is on getting the fundamentals right. The students begin right from learning to prepare stocks, soups and sauces to entrées and main courses, while touching upon the basics of bakery and patisserie. The focus is on offering the student chefs a wide spectrum of knowledge to prepare them for international industry standards through a 52-week day release programme. Guest trainers comprise top chefs from the Industry, who conduct training sessions to impart their knowledge and skills aligned to the industry’s needs and best practices.
What do the graduates go on to do?
The training is application-focused with an emphasis on commercial cooking skills, product creativity, presentation, multi-tasking, interpersonal skills, and the supervisory and leadership skills required for the industry. Throughout the programme, the students have several opportunities to refine their skills in the fast-growing UAE market. We expect them to take the initiative to improve themselves by applying the knowledge and skills gained through the scholarship training to the workplace.
What are your plans for the programme in 2016?
The next scholarship programme will begin this month and we have already started receiving applications. In order to double the number of students taking part, we will run two formats of the programme. One batch of 20 candidates will be fully sponsored and supported by ICCA Dubai, while another 20 candidates will be sponsored or supported by the industry.
What guest lecturers are taking part in this year’s programme?
Among the chefs who will be supporting the next programme as guest lecturers are Sascha Triemer (Atlantis The Palm), Michael Kitts (Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management), Darren Velvick (The Croft, Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites), Harald Oberender (Dubai World Trade Centre) and Bobby Krishna (Dubai Municipality).
How important are initiatives like this for the growth of the F&B industry in Dubai and the Middle East?
When it comes to hospitality, Dubai offers the kind of quality, infrastructure and environment that you can’t get anywhere else in the world. Having a scholarship programme based in the UAE opens up opportunities to those who may not be able to financially afford training. Through this programme, we provide the hospitality industry with smart resources to increase their knowledge and skills. With the Dubai Expo 2020 rapidly approaching, the UAE tourism and hospitality sector will experience massive growth to help cater to the 25 million expected visitors. We need to show these visitors that our offering is world-class, and this is where training such as this is paramount to make a difference.