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1-15 August 2010  
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Home - Hospitality Life - Article

Campus Notes

Groomed for success

“It’s not what you know but what you show!”This is what one needs to remember if they want a good job in the hospitality industry, believes Hoshang Velat, senior lecturer at the Hotel Administration and Food Technology (HAFT) department of the Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai. By Ishani Chatterji

The institution is 40 years young and the oldest in the city. Sophia Shree Basant Kumar Somani Memorial Polytechnic was established in June 1970. The Polytechnic emphasises not only on academic excellence but also on the all round development of the students. The institute offers learning with the Swiss CALC menu programme.

The HAFT department of the Polytechnic offers a BSc program in Hospitality Studies. What started off as a diploma course was soon changed into a degree course because of the growing demands of a degree. The Polytechnic has been affiliated to Mumbai University since last year and prior to this, it was affiliated to the Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nashik. The instititue also offers a craft course in Bakery and Confectionery and a certificate course in all round restaurant etiquette. This is primarily for the underprivileged so that they can be groomed for basic service in restaurants. The aim of this institute is to prepare the best for employment in the hospitality industry.

Course details

The B.Sc course in Hospitality Studies is a three year full time course. Admission is based purely on merit. The primary criteria for admission is that the student should have cleared the Higher Secondary Certificate exam with a minimum of 50 per cent. The student also has to go through a written aptitude test and a personal interview. There are 60 seats available. Students in their third year are taken to different cuisine restaurants where they are made to interact with the chef and learn a new cuisine. Also, the students have an annual trip where they go to a distinct region in India and learn the authentic cuisine of that area. Last year the students were taken to Mysore. Besides that, students have also been taken to Rajasthan, Goa, Lucknow and Kolkata. They also have an annual theme dinner. This is an opportunity for the students to display their culinary skills to the VIPs present at the dinner. Last year, the theme was 'Indian marriages' where over 70 food items were cooked.

The craft course in bakery and confectionary is a one year course. The main aim of this course is to give the students hands on experience of the working of a bakery. The eligibility for this is 45 per cent in HSC. There are only 24 seats. Students are not just taught how to bake but also presentation techniques and international desserts. An industrial training which lasts for a duration of three months also gives the students an exposure to the confectionary world. The institute also has a certificate course in all round restaurant etiquette. This is mainly for the economically underprivileged so that they can get basic service in restaurants and allied catering units. The students are not only given theoretical introduction to the hospitality industry, but also practical exposure such as serviette folds, menu compilation with set up, identification of crockery etc.

From the lecturer's desk

Hoshang Velat, senior lecturer, and Hufriz Motawala, bakery incharge, ex students of Sophia Polytechnic and now faculty members, feel that along with everything else, a good profile is of utmost importance if one needs to be a part of the hospitality industry. It’s about the right kind of attitude and diction

Why would prospective students choose Sophia Polytechnic for their undergraduate course?

Sophia is one of the oldest institutes in Mumbai. And now we have a reputation not only in this city, but outside also. The institute has been affiliated to Mumbai University. We have just upgraded our infrastructure to provide the students with the best. We have not only created a new kitchen but also upgraded our old one. One of our biggest advantages is our campus. We have one of the best campus’ in Mumbai. We give individual attention to our students because our batches are very small. Our total strength is 60, but the students are further split up into batches of 20 so that we can have a one on one interaction with our students. Above all, students are taught overall basics. We are one of the few only hotel management courses which offer computer learning with the Swiss CALC menu programme. At our Annual Dinner, we have special invitees and professionals from this industry.

What is the future of the hospitality industry in India?

The future of hospitality in India is extremely bright. India enjoys a very low cost of labour and the hospitality industry is very labour intensive, therefore there is more opportunity for people. India is also one of the most tourist friendly countries in the world. Thus there is a rapid development of the international chains of hotels where students from the hospitality industry will be required. The hospitality industry is open to all to come and join and our institute concentrates on the overall, personal grooming of the student, therefore he will never have any problem getting a job with these international chains.

What role does Sophia Polytechnic play in bringing about a positive change to the present education scenario?

Sophia Polytechnic is one of the oldest institutes in the city. We, the faculty, put in our best efforts to transform our students into those who can survive in this industry. We believe in shaping up their personality and also giving them a good profile as they leave. What needs to be taught, can be taught, but at the end of the day its not about what the student knows, its more about what they show. We are putting in our best to provide the industry with a refined product. Our students may not make it to the position of a manager right at the beginning but we guarantee 100 percent placement in the best of the hotels.

How is your curriculum different from other colleges offering the same course?

We conduct extra classes so that the students have an overall foothold. We also believe in a one to one interaction so that we can relate to the students much better. Our curriculum enhances the student’s confidence. Our practical sessions and out reach programmes work put very well as the students not only enjoy it but also learn a lot. The highlight of the year is our annual exhibition culminating into the theme dinner organised in conjunction with the staff. This event showcases the talent of the students as they are completely involved in the entire procedure starting from the procurement of ingredients to the menu selection and food trials, as well as the actual preparation of the specialty dishes. In addition to this, the overall décor of the theme is also handled by them.

The event is visited by industry professionals such as chefs, managers, etc who are invited to sample and experience the exquisite ambience and cuisine. This gives our students the opportunity to display their culinary skills and service talents.

How would you describe an ideal hospitality candidate?

In today’s world, its all about your attitude, diction and, most importantly, profile. It is what you show the world that is important. The hotel industry looks for a good profile when it comes to front office managers. Even chefs now days need to look their best as they may have to come and speak to the guests. So, the recipe for a perfect hospitality candidate is the right kind of attitude mixed with the perfect profile and diction.


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