Running a restaurant is hard work for all involved.
When one is acting as chef, it’s even more so.
That’s the opinion of Nikki Morris Michael, a second-year hospitality – hotel and restaurant management student, who has learned by practicing at Algonquin’s Restaurant International.
The International is Algonquin’s own little restaurant, run by the hotel and restaurant management students to give them real-world work experience, while giving visitors a taste of fine-dining. Students are given a chance to occupy multiple positions within the kitchen, as they roles are assigned out for the day.
Being chef comes with unique responsibilities, too.
“They’re usually here for a few hours early,” said Morris-Michael. “They have to do a show plate, and then all the plates after that have to live up to that.”
A show plate is the layout of the plate. Presentation is very important in fine dining, and how good the meal looks is often just as important as how the meal tastes. This also means that the choices are limited; the focus of the restaurant is not to serve out a large menu, but instead to create a meal carefully crafted by the students that will be served out in courses.
The restaurant is not the only thing on the minds of the hospitality students. With mid-terms coming up, students have to balance the restaurant with other classes.
“The hardest projects class,” said Andrew Peeters, another second-year. “We have to figure out the feasibility of opening a hotel at the airport.”
The project is another example of the program’s attempt at supplying real-world experience to the students, where students have to figure out if opening a hypothetical hotel at the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport.
The program offers other opportunities, too. Students are afforded the ability to come back to the restaurant even after they’re done with the International, with the added bonus of earning money. The program also offers multiple articulation agreements, allowing students to move on to a fast-track for their bachelor’s degree should they so choose.
The international is run from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. for lunch on weekdays, and from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. for dinner on Monday through Saturday.