La Cónsula Catering College
The gastronomic culture of Malaga province is unquestionable, given the quantity and variety of restaurants to be found in this area. This is not just the opinion of customers, who increasingly seek and value dishes that have been prepared by true professionals who love what they do; it is also the case for those who decide to train in the world of hotel and catering, a sector which is on the increase and one where the demand for new professionals grows each year.
There are numerous specialist catering schools in the province and, even in these difficult economic times, on average more than 85 per cent of their students find work after they have graduated.
The variety and the different locations of the colleges mean that they are able to meet the needs of a labour market which is increasingly focused on the tourism sector. Enjoying a ‘gourmet’ meal and truly professional service is a pleasure we can all experience, and this is a philosophy that is increasingly being followed by restaurants, especially those that don’t make their living mainly from customers who decide to try traditional local food while visiting Malaga.
So, although many young people all over the country train at specialist catering colleges and then travel elsewhere to work, most of the students who graduate in Malaga province find employment close to home.
Another lesson that has been learned from good restaurants is that age and experience are not an obstacle when training for a profession which has become an art form and one which, at the same time, is very necessary.
Directors of training colleges say that their students are not only youngsters who have just reached adulthood and decided to learn how to cook. In fact, a large number of those who train in catering are around 25 years old and have previous experience in the sector.
Facing the public
The philosophy of these training colleges places great emphasis on practical experience and their students spend some time working for private companies, which teaches them about what is needed to handle a roomful of diners; this is a situation they have to face many times before they graduate.
Even before the students go to work in a company, the catering colleges make it possible for them to discover the reality of the work they have chosen, because all the colleges have their own restaurants and these are open to the public.
Quality products and a clear commitment to the use of local produce, traditional recipes prepared with new cookery techniques and days on which dishes are featured according to what is in season are just a part of what is offered by these colleges.
It is normally necessary to book in advance to eat at these restaurants, where the good price/quality ratio is the icing on a cake which is definitely worth sampling.
These culinary experiences do not only benefit the palates that wish to enjoy a carefully-prepared menu, but also an increasingly large group of students who demonstrate with every tablecloth they place in the dining room and every pinch of spice that they add to a main dish how they are progressing in a profession they want to make a way of life.
As training centres for professionals, the catering colleges in Malaga continually take steps forward in terms of ensuring that their qualifications are a reflection of quality.
The introduction of new techniques in the preparation of dishes and the pairing of local ingredients with exotic touches evolve alongside the needs of the market and adapt to the tastes of the clients.
Offering students a specialist training capable of providing the labour market with the qualified personnel it needs is also one of the secrets of success of these catering colleges.
Trainee chefs who wish to be part of this interesting world of gastronomy have a growing number of specific options that are more extensive nowadays than the traditional management of kitchen and dining room. Ice-cream, patisserie and sommelier are the principal specialist subjects which can be studied free of charge and with excellent results, either as complementary training or for those who know from the start at which phase of the preparation of a meal they feel most comfortable.
What is clear is that fewer and fewer professionals these days are acquiring their knowledge solely from experience. The training colleges and their results show the importance of studying for a profession which, for those on both sides of the counter, is part of a significant gastronomic culture.