You've finished the course now. Why did you decide to study this particular course at ITM with Queen Margaret University? 

I was looking to study Culinary Arts because I wanted to become a chef, so that was the main motivation. I was researching universities that would provide this training and thought that ITM looked like a great institute, and it was affiliated with Queen Margaret University. I liked the programme set-up; it made me want to be a part of it and find out what it was all about. 

There are similar Culinary Arts courses in Mumbai, but not with a university. Was that part of the issue? 

No, Culinary Arts programmes don’t seem to be in high demand here and there was not much on offer in Mumbai in particular. There aren't even that many in India. So, the emphasis on Culinary Arts at ITM was my main motivation for joining the programme. I felt that the course would be demanding and give me a whole range of career options afterwards.

You wanted to become a chef. To what extent has the course helped you with that ambition? 

Yes. In the first year we learnt all about the basics; what techniques you need to learn as a chef - both the theory and the practical elements. In the second year, we had a training programme, which gave us a lot of exposure to the industry. Through this, we learned about the demands of the industry and whether we are able to cope with them.

Tell us a bit more about the training. Did you go and work in a kitchen? 

Yes. During the six months of the training programme, we were trained in the kitchens. I was at the Renaissance, which is a J.W. Marriott hotel and conference centre. I was placed in the cafeterias, in the Italian restaurant, in the pan Asian food restaurant and the bakery - so I was able to learn all the aspects of the kitchen. This was a fantastic learning experience; it shows you what it means to be a chef and what difficulties you might be facing, and that was very helpful for me. I even won an employee award in my first month there. That really motivated me - to know that they were impressed with my work. The two years at ITM prepared me well for the internship.

What did you get from the third year of the course? 

As we came back from the industrial training, we were looking forward to specialising in areas related to culinary courses. We were really excited about the new NEC modules in the first semester – they were interesting as that was similar to starting up a business. There were no theory this time around, so we had to improvise and take care of things such as the finances, marketing, sales and production ourselves. This was very useful as not only did it give us a broad range of experience, it also gave us some grounding for setting up our own businesses, should we wish to. There was also a module that taught us about the sustainability of food and drink that covered everything, from farm to plate. We also learned more about the ingredients and the processing stages involved in food production. Other useful knowledge gained was an understanding of what different movements are currently happening, such as the slow food movement, and the steps that both governments and NGOs are taking to ensure that food is safe. It’s very useful to know, especially if you are setting up a business, how to take care of your ingredients and what legal matters are involved.

You mentioned a couple of times that there are specific modules related to starting your own business. Is this something you would like to do? 

I would like to open my own business further down the line. I'm working on it as a side project at the moment as right now I am focused on gaining more industry experience. It's a very fast growing industry in India at the moment so I need to be immersed in that so I can gain the upper hand when it comes to setting up my own company. The fact that I am working on my business in my spare time means that I’ll be ready when it's time for me to get it up and running. 

What do you think you would like to do? Have you got a business idea? 

I'm still in the process of brainstorming right now. 

So the programme is helping then? The principles you've learned will help you when it comes to setting something up? 

Yes. That's correct. 

What would you say was different about your third year compared to what you learnt earlier on in the course? 

The third year had a specific module about developing your product. This was really helpful and also different to what we had learned before as when we went for our industrial training, there were students from many other institutions that were there with us. We were able to make contact with those people and it was interesting to find out when talking to them about our modules that they are not learning the same things as we were - it made me realise how lucky we are to be on this course. 

What advice would you give to someone who is considering taking this course and why would you recommend studying with ITM and QMU? 

If you are passionate about what you want to do, especially if it's to become a chef, this is a programme where you are given the complete picture as to what is required. It's about more than just working in the kitchen - you are taught about leadership and all the other skills you will need, including how to manage your team. It's very challenging but definitely lots of fun, and interesting as well. You learn and experience everything!