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How do you create a Gala Dinner?

Our hotel management students prove their kitchen and service skills.

What is the gala dinner?

In the first semester, the gala dinner is the highlight for the students of the Swiss Professional Degree (HF) at the SSTH hotel management school in Passugg. They can show off to the external guests what they have learned during the first semester in the practical subjects of kitchen and service.

The HF students plan the entire gala dinner in all its facets independently: from the development of the menu, the theme and the decoration to the gastronomic service in the evening itself.

Regina Nef, HF student 2018, was enthusiastic about the opportunity to prove her abilities: 

"We are happy to show what we have been practicing for weeks and can hardly wait to spoil our guests with the various service techniques and delicacies we have learned from the kitchen.”

What are the learning outcomes from our students’ perspective?

When planning the evening, the students must achieve concrete learning goals, which are evaluated by an external, professional jury. The gala dinner should reflect what they have learned during the semester in the various in-house restaurants. However, in addition to the organisation and execution, particular attention is also be paid to the aspect of team building.

Emphasis is also placed on the menu. The students are expected to create a 3-course menu including Amuse Bouche and a selection of three Friandises for coffee. Seasonality has to be taken into account and the main course must be served in Guéridon style. Vegetarian alternatives should also not be forgotten. The budget is clearly defined and must not be exceeded.

Martina Luciani, professional juror:

“I’m always impressed by how the students master this challenge and at what level they already put such an evening into practice after one semester of practical instruction.”

What goes into the preparation of a gala dinner?

The HF class assumes the role of a kitchen team that has received a banquet order for a 3-course gala dinner at the SSTH hotel management school in Passugg. The event's clients expect the menu to correspond to their theme and offer their VIP guests a special evening.

The preparation and planning of the gala dinner corresponds to nearly half of the total points. The students therefore pay special attention to the following project tasks:

Development of a gala dinner menu

Different groups develop menu suggestions that meet the learning goals of the gala dinner. At the end, the entire group decides which menu proposal should be implemented in the evening.

Composition of the kitchen team

The students organize themselves like a traditional kitchen brigade: it is determined who takes over the role of the chef and the chef de partie.

Organisation of the service team

The service team must also be defined, including service times and the catering for employees.

Development of own recipes

The students divide the recipes of the gala dinner within the team and standardize each one so that it can be implemented specifically on the evening. Also, the kitchen utensils, presentation, garnish and the service of the respective dish are to be defined. The budget must not be disregarded.

Test cooking

As soon as the taste of the food and the appearance of the plates are right, photos are taken and the recipes finalized.

Mise en place

Each station creates a list of what it wants to do ahead of time and explains why it is necessary to produce that particular article ahead of time.

Development of a time and organization plan

A time and organisation plan must be drawn up which guarantees the correct procedures and tasks for each station and each individual person of the gala dinner evening.

Critical analysis

The groups create a critical analysis of their work throughout the project, including the gala dinner itself. The analysis includes both the strengths and weaknesses of the project, as well as a reflection on the benefits the students derive from the project.

Education in Affective Hospitality

The students always invest a lot of time in planning the evening and the SSTH gives them the necessary space for creativity and their own ideas. When planning the evening, the relevant technical examination elements such as the Guéridon Service or the decanting of the wine must be integrated into the dinner. But how they want to design the guests' experience is entirely their own responsibility.

The SSTH's Affective Hospitality vision is to be a host on your own responsibility, work together as a team and create unique guest experiences using central elements such as food, decoration, service, entertainment and kitchen. In addition to the students' soft skills, the focus is on the individual emotions of the guests. In contrast to other hotel management schools, the SSTH not only develops students’ social skills, but also strengthens their self-confidence and self-reflection. Skills which develop best through practice!

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