Wine tasting is one of the fastest growing industries in India, say experts
The hospitality industry is bouncing back in India, slowly but steadily, with about 70 per cent restaurants reopening doors. Some of the faculty and former students of IIHM Kolkata, spread out in different parts of the world, gathered for the webinar Hospitality 2.0: Global Classrooms for Global Careers that explored the emerging opportunities in the food and beverage sector.
The virtual session was part of CampusToCareer 2020, a free ongoing series from ABP Education.
The panel comprised wine and beverage consultant Keith W. Edgar; Syed Jeff Hussain of Callaway Gardens & Resort Georgia, US; Ritu Jolly of IIHM Group; David Foskett of International Hospitality Council, London; Sarfaraz Alam of Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Cincinnati, Ohio; Awinash Kumar of Kimpton Charlotte Square (IHG Hotels); and chef Shaun Kenworthy.
The discussion was moderated by Dr Suborno Bose of IIHM.
Missed the session? Catch it on this link.
Here’s what the speakers had to say:
Keith W. Edgar, Freelance Wine and Beverage Consultant
Few in India knew about sommeliers. Most hotel management aspirants would want to become a chef. So, in my initial days I would try to woo students by telling them not to become a chef as the kitchen is very hot, instead it would be more fun on the floor of the restaurant!
It was while teaching students about wine and its varieties that I was struck by the idea of taking them to the wine regions of the world for better understanding. Only when students travel to vineyards, wineries and wine cellars where the smell of oak and wine fills the space with an unexplainably amazing aroma would they understand the world of wines better and fall in love with them. And that is how IIHM started its Euro Wine Tour for students.
India now has a demand for sommeliers. It is one of the fastest growing industries. Many students want to pursue a career in wine and there are many opportunities, from working in vineyards to getting associated with the wine making process and becoming a wine taster or a sommelier. Unless one sees the process of wine making and storage and understands the variety of grapes, one cannot become a good sommelier. Global exposure in this domain can help one choose a truly rewarding career in the wine industry.
There is a lot on offer. And a truly good course on wine and spirit education can take you places.
Syed Jeff Hussain, Director of Food & Beverage, Callaway Gardens & Resort, Georgia, USA
As a child, when I visited restaurants and hotels, I would be struck by their beauty and grandeur. It was only while studying at IIHM that I understood there is more to hotels than its glamorous facade.
When you make a dream house, you need to buy land first and then put pillars in place and erect the structure and once that is done, it’s time to furnish the house. In the same way, choosing the right hospitality college would be the right land for you where your teachers would be the pillars and what you learn from them would be the furnishing.
Today, I am armed with the knowledge I acquired from my days as a student of hospitality. I worked hard and was sent on an internship to the US. I returned to India to complete my course with an offer letter and returned to the US in 2014 after completing my course. Since then, I am here. So, I would say if you stick to your basics, you will get several opportunities coming your way.
Ritu Jolly, Associate Director, Training & Placement, IIHM Group
IIHM is an international institute as it truly offers global education through tie-ups with some of the best hospitality colleges around the world. Students get an international degree from the UK that becomes their passport to a global hospitality career. Our alumni are working all over the world and our students are also joining our partner institutions abroad for higher education. The students here are getting international internships and are often returning with offer letters.
Prof David Foskett (MBE), Chairman of International Hospitality Council, London
A good hospitality institute would inculcate hospitality in the DNA of its students and that is what will take them places. You cannot impart world-class education in hospitality without talking about cutting-edge technology and its penetration in the hospitality industry.
For those fearing gloom in the hospitality sector, let’s just say that hospitality is the soul of every region and an important component of its economy. And it’s in the process of bouncing back. The hospitality industry has found solutions and is working towards implementing them.
The hospitality sector will always have jobs.
Sarfaraz Alam, Food & Beverage Director, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Cincinnati, Ohio
When I joined IIHM in Kolkata in 2009 after coming from Hyderabad, my seniors, my faculty members and my hostel wardens made me feel at home. It was through my education in hospitality that I came to know about the world around me and how the hospitality sector contributes to it. Today I know the whole world and can talk about any country from the point of view of the wine it produces. Success in the hospitality industry is not driven by books and exams but mostly through practical knowledge, both during education and in work life.
Awinash Kumar, F&B Manager, Kimpton Charlotte square (IHG Hotels)
Hospitality is a world about which I had no knowledge until I failed to clear the NDA exam and packed my bags from Purulia and took admission in IIHM Kolkata. I came to Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, to do the international part of my course and have since built my career here.
From my experience, I can say that self-confidence and the right attitude are very important factors in working in a different country with a different culture. No matter how much theoretical and practical knowledge you have, if you lack in self-confidence and don’t have the right attitude, you cannot use your knowledge at the right time.
Chef Shaun Kenworthy, Culinary Director, IIHM
The chef’s skill is a craft and to make your craft great, it is important to know all the ingredients you work with in the kitchen. And to help students gain in-depth understanding of the culinary traditions of the world, we have started taking our students on culinary tours.
Overfarming can harm our planet and a budding chef has to understand these issues pertaining to the environment as well because it is nature that provides us all the ingredients for cooking.
To become a good chef, it is important to understand the diversity and culture immersed in the cuisine of every place. Twenty years ago, when I started, opportunities were not ample. Now in India a chef has very good opportunities. You may not be academically inclined but if you have great skills as a chef, you can travel the world and always have your hands full.
The hospitality industry is slowly returning to normalcy as restaurants across India are opening and are already doing 70 per cent business.
Dr. Suborno Bose, Founder & Chief Mentor, IIHM (Moderator)
Wine is still a growing subject in India and the credit for popularising sommeliers and wine tasting as a profession in India goes to stalwarts like Keith Edgar. We have had students from the remotest corners of India who are now on their way to becoming celebrated sommeliers.
Hospitality is a truly global career. To become a good chef, understanding gastronomy and culinary traditions is important.
In the hospitality sector, confidence is like a muscle. The more you use it, the better it becomes. COVID-19 is just a passing phase, we are on our way back to normal.
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