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Hotel Chefs Provide Philippines Students With Opportunities

Hotel Chefs Provide Philippines Students With Opportunities

In their work as chefs at the Seacrest Beach and Harbor View hotels in Cape Cod, Daniel Kenney and Nathan Gould recruit interns from around the world to work in their kitchens, hone their culinary skills, and gain professional experience.

For the last three years, Kenney and Gould have visited the Philippines to interview candidates for nine-month internships in the two hotels, starting in the spring—a mission that holds a special place in both chefs’ hearts.

During a recent two-week trip to the country—the first since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the island—the chefs had another opportunity to connect with talented students who study at top culinary and hospitality management universities in the area.

“This was a recruiting trip,” says Kenney, who heads the culinary program at the Seacrest Beach Hotel. “We went to some of the best culinary schools around the Philippines and interviewed, cooked with, talked with, and spent time with about 100 candidates.”

Kenney and Gould chose 35 students to join them for internships at their Massachusetts properties. But the trip proved special in other ways. Although the chefs didn’t visit the area hit hardest by the typhoon, they did meet children who were greatly impacted by Haiyan at a local orphanage.

“We had a chance to go to an orphanage in Cebu that was taking in kids that lost their families, lost their houses, lost everything in the storm,” Kenney says. “We donated tooth brushes and daily needs, food and water, and spent time with them, which was a very eye-opening part of the trip for us.”

The chefs also used the visit to catch up with former culinary interns, some of whom work for well-known hotels, such as the Shangri-La and the Mandarin Oriental. Other former interns even own their own restaurants.

According to Robin Kirk, president of Scout Hotels, which manages the Harbor View Hotel and the Sea Crest Beach Hotel, Kenney and Gould have encouraged relationships with interns that are more significant and productive than usual. That’s being done, he says, through communication and by visiting countries where these young people come from, including the Philippines.

“We get very deeply involved with the educational institutions over there,” Kirk says. “We get to know these people, and it’s almost like a two-way transfer of knowledge and experience. We gain wonderful cultural input.”

Gould and Kenney say students in the Philippines are raised in a culture where food is important to families, and where cooking takes lots of care and time. Furthermore, Philippine traditions fit many trends that are popular in professional kitchens throughout the U.S.

“These kids are raised in chef-focused homes,” says Gould, executive chef at the Harbor View Hotel. “They’re raised around using the whole animal, harvesting vegetables, and going to markets to pick out their food”

The internships are a source of pride for Gould and Kenney. Along with Scout Hotels, the two chefs will continue to promote the education of burgeoning chefs from foreign countries through outreach efforts and educational programs.

“We get wonderful, qualified people to work in the culinary arts in our properties. They [learn] production techniques and different approaches to food,” says Kirk. “These kids are getting incredibly good experience.”

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