Calum, from Edinburgh, has a keen interest in cocktails, spirits, wine and coffee, which fits in well with his passion for the hospitality industry. He enjoys travel and working with people from different nationalities and backgrounds, so when he returned from taking part in a course based in Barcelona, he realised he missed the engagement with other people and the opportunity to learn from other students.

He chose the course at QMU because of its international perspective and the wonderful opportunity it offered him to gain hands on experience at the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School in Edinburgh and at the prestigious Waldorf Astoria. He believes the course has also allowed him to build connections between his interest in the hospitality and tourism industry, whilst also gaining a better understanding of business as a whole.

Why did you choose to study in Edinburgh/Scotland?

I live locally to Edinburgh and staying at home made the best sense for saving money. I was just lucky that QMU was not only close by, but greatly regarded for its Hospitality and Tourism programme and also has great industry connections throughout Scotland.

Living Away from Home

Living relatively close to the campus, I chose to commute rather than move into student residences, but that didn’t stop me taking part in all that Edinburgh offers in terms of student life.

Despite the relatively pricey living costs, Edinburgh has incredible clubs, cafes, bars and shops and is known for its festivals, which attract an international audience. There is so much to see and do in Edinburgh. It really does have something for everyone.

The Course

What’s been the highlight of the course so far? What have you learnt, or which particular activity has been the most interesting?

The most fun I have had within the course was definitely at the New Town Cookery School, where we had the opportunity to do our practical cookery training in our first year. This provided the students with a significant insight into what I know for a fact a lot of us on the course had little skills in - cooking. This allowed many to make a connection between what we already knew about front of house and general hospitality knowledge, and blend that with our newly acquired skills and knowledge relating to food preparation, cooking and service. I know that for many organisations in the hospitality sector, understanding the kitchen, and its importance to the business, is key. Certainly, the work we did at the school really helped me build my confidence in cooking which will be a big advantage to me as my career develops.  It also really helped the students to get to know other people on the course a bit better.

Part of our hands on practical experience at the New Town Cookery School was to plan a special dining event. It was a lot of work but it provided a great opportunity to learn things like menu pricing and we also had the challenge of creating a themed event.

What other practical learning experiences have you had on your course that you feel will help you in your future career?

Since being at QMU I’ve spent time working with Dakota Hotels – in Leeds as the head bartender, in Glasgow as the bar supervisor, and as a senior server at Dakota Edinburgh. I learned about the art of cocktail making and about the importance of working efficiently and consistently. During my time in Leeds, I solely coordinated and managed my own team over two bars. I held weekly training sessions to increase my team’s knowledge and understanding of products and techniques to develop their skills and confidence to deliver service at a Dakota standard. I also did a placement with the Waldorf Astoria/Gavins Brassarie De Luxe, where I spent my time in different departments. Working at Galvin’s Brasserie De Luxe, Michelin starred chefs Chris and Jeff Galvin’s, showed me how to achieve a classic, flawless and first class experience from start to finish, and gave me a diverse perspective of management styles.

Any advice for students who might be interested in this course?

I think this course is fantastic and I would 100% encourage individuals interested in Hospitality and Tourism to take this course. I think there is a huge misconception that degrees are not ‘needed’ in this industry but I believe this course has helped me build a solid foundation of knowledge and values which will allow me to excel in my future roles within the industry. It has also made me more aware of the wide range of business aspects and culture that I knew little about prior to the course. In addition, the skills learned on the course can take you anywhere, and the international perspective of QMU’s hospitality and tourism course, means that the world really is your oyster if you do wish to work overseas.

Any future plans after graduation?

After I graduate I hope to progress on a graduate scheme through Dakota Hotels.

What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student?

If I was to go back to first year I would have joined some sort of student club or sports/activity team, and I probably would have used the support available within the uni for any essay writing or researching skills a lot earlier on than I did. QMU’s Effective Learning Service’ offers great support to students with all aspects of their learning.

Students can get individual tailored support with any aspect of learning that they feel they need help with. I’d recommend that students take full advantage of it. I’d also recommend attending the Freshers’ events at the start of semester, and others various events like the Employability and Enterprise Festival put on by the university or the Students’ Union throughout the year! These present great opportunities to meet people, get to know students from different course areas and staff across the university, and importantly, to benefit from the excellent extra curriculum opportunities which can build your understanding, skills and CV.

"The skills learned on the course can take you anywhere, and the international perspective of QMU’s hospitality and tourism course, means that the world really is your oyster if you do wish to work overseas."
Calum Stewart

Published 15 June 2018