Journey of a culinary student at Symbiosis School of Culinary Arts (SSCA)

…from the eyes of Chef Manoj Patkar

About SSCA: Symbiosis School of Culinary Arts (SSCA) is a constituent of Symbiosis International University (SIU), founded in 2016, was established with a view to cater to the need of the Food Industry to train and develop specialized culinary professionals. Our flagship Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts has been one of the most sought after culinary degree in the country.

Further details about SSCA can be found athttps://www.ssca.edu.in/

Admission:Every year, we have 60 vacant seats in our classroom, to enrol students for the B.Sc. Culinary Arts under-graduate three year degree program at SSCA. So, if any student aspires to be seated on one of these sixty vacant seats, this blog shall take you on your virtual journey to give a glimpse of what’s in store for you, once enrolled at SSCA. On an average, 60% of students at SSCA are girls and it’s a good sign for the hospitality industry to gain trained women empowerment professionals from SSCA.

Further details about admission process at SSCA can be found at https://www.ssca.edu.in/bsc-culinary-arts-admission-process

The Academic Journey:
The First Week: The first day shall be one of the most memorable days of your journey. You shall be invited to attend Orientation / Deeksharambh which is basically the Student’s Induction Programme along with your parents. This shall help students to get familiar with new surroundings, bonding with fellow students and teachers, sensitivity of various issues of social relevance and human values to become the responsible citizens.

Besides SSCA faculties, industry professionals hailing from varied backgrounds share their gyaan with students regarding their transition from an amateur to a professional. Students are then asked to introduce themselves in front of the entire audience. This is the first step of providing platform to practice public speaking skills and boost one’s confidence. Post lunch, students and parents are generally taken around the SSCA Lab tour.

To help parents understand the possible conditions their child may face while being away from home and how that can affect their academics and living here on campus, Symbiosis Centre for Emotional Wellbeing (SCEW) arranges an interactive session with parents of the new joinee students.

A schedule of the first week’s student induction program is shared with all students and parents. There are lots of indoor and outdoor activities conducted during the first week and academics start from the second week onward. Besides these activities, uniform measurements, distribution of textbook and tool kit, allocation of locker’s and proof check of eligibility documentation’s take place in the first week. An official email address is provided to each student and all students are requested to join the official WhatsApp group. Entire communication for the remaining three years takes place via official email and WhatsApp group only.

Before we begin the academic journey, a few important points as below, that are applicable across all academic semesters:

Medical Certificate: To ensure that student’s enrolling at SSCA are free of any infectious skin disease, psoriasis foliate, tuberculosis, trachoma, veneral disease and HIV, it is mandatory for each student to get such a medical certificate from a registered MBBS Doctor and presented to SSCA at the time of admission. Annual health checkups are done by Symbiosis to ensure overall fitness.

Program structure: The following link provides insights to students on the various courses that are in store at SSCA: https://www.ssca.edu.in/bsc-culinary-arts-program-structure A Program Review Committee (PRC) which comprises of senior faculties and industry stalwarts, monitors the relevance of courses in the curriculum based on industry needs.

Class Timetable: Weekly / Monthly class timetable is shared with all students via shared Google Sheets. Students are expected to check the class timetable on a daily basis to keep tab on changes, if any.

Attendance: Minimum 75% attendance in academics is mandatory in each semester, to appear end semester exams. Students missing internal assessment need to approach the concerned faculty for re-exam only in-case of medical reasons. Students need to attach SUHRC (https://www.suhrc.edu.in/index.php/ SCHS (https://www.schcpune.org/Campuses.php )issued medical certificate to make themselves eligible for the re-exam. Student attendance is visible by students and their parents via the learning management system.

Communication of parents with SSCA: Email communication is the most preferred mode of communication. All emails shall be responded promptly. Telephonic communication is not encouraged.

Internal Exam marks: Each faculty shares their respective course's internal assessment mark sheet for theory or practical course, with students via shared Google Sheets.

External Exam marks: Semester end exam timetable is usually shared with students a month prior to the first exam date.

The First Semester: After the first week honeymoon period, the actual academic journey commences. Each academic semester comprises of 15 weeks of academic teaching learning process. Every faculty ensures the highest level of teaching delivery followed by rigorous assignments, internal examinations.

Practical Classes:

Typically each practical class is scheduled for 4.5 hours, i.e. from 9am to 1.30pm. Students get a 30 minute break to change into formal uniform and attend theory classes post lunch. A word of caution here to students: Students are not allowed to walk outside the SSCA Labs wearing the chef uniform to prevent cross contamination. Anyone found breaking the rules is liable to pay fine. A student starts the culinary practical with identification of various kitchen equipment’s, its usage and cleaning methods. The next step is identification various raw materials used at the labs along with their English – Hindi – French vocabulary. Next in line of learning is cuts of vegetables – fruits – chicken – lamb – seafood (must include processing of live crabs). Once students get accustomed to various cuts of raw materials, then they learn various methods of cooking. To begin with, egg and potato cookery gives students a fair bit of understanding of various methods of cooking. Finally students get to start preparing three to four course menu’s, typically based on French cuisine.

Theory Classes: then they learn various methods of cooking. To begin with, egg and potato cookery gives students a fair bit of understanding of various methods of cooking. Finally students get to start preparing three to four course menu’s, typically based on French cuisine.
Theory Classes:

Typically are conducted in afternoon from 2pm to 5pm. Faculties use various teaching pedagogies to keep students awake during post lunch classes. But trust me, most of the classes are fun, with lots of interaction. Having said so, Science background students find courses like Fundamentals of Food Science like a cake walk while Commerce and Arts students try to learn to their best levels. French language is compulsory. This foreign language is of high importance in the hospitality industry. A good knowledge of vocabulary related to the cuisine and a good command over the language is a necessary prerequisite for students to excel in the academic and professional domain Students may initially find it difficult to adapt to the disciplinary norms followed at SSCA. There is no compromise for personal hygiene, professional workplace hygiene and time management. Students will gradually start understanding the importance of disciplinary norms in their transition from an amateur level towards becoming a professional culinarian. Washing utensils, pots, pans, gas burners, work-tables, kitchen walls and the flooring becomes a habit during the due course of the journey, besides cooking simple to complex dishes.

The Second Semester: Students are quite familiar with faculty expectations in this semester. Students value the importance of time and are usually present 5 minutes prior to class commencement.
Good habits such as boys having a clean shave daily, girls tying their hair with a hair net, nails trimmed, clean ironed uniform, polished shoes with black socks, wearing student ID card at all thus showcases the professionalism gained by SSCA students as compared to rest of the students from other institutes at the Symbiosis Hillbase campus.
Infact. SSCA students carry a natural smile while greeting fellow mates or staff members in campus and this forms the USP of SSCA students. We are proud to groom our students and all of them look amazing in their crisp formal uniforms that are provided by SSCA. The same students look even more professional once they wear their chef uniforms.
Few courses such as Applied Nutrition are considered tough for understanding by non-science background students but there is no option but to study and understand the importance of these courses in their chosen culinary journey.
Experiential learning activities, sports events, cultural activities, study tours, value added courses such as sessions by guest lecturers make the semester pass by pretty quickly.
The Third Semester: This semester starts with the six week summer internship which is recommended to be undertaken at speciality cuisine standalone restaurants or bakery / pastry production units. SSCA suggests that students pursue this internship ideally at their hometown. This is the first industry experience which SSCA students gain and it’s like a net practise before the six month internship which is scheduled in Semester IV. Post summer internship, students join back at SSCA by doing their PowerPoint presentation along with submission of logbook reports that are duly signed by their chef / manager. Students thoroughly enjoy academics in this semester as they relate its importance from industry perspectives.
The Fourth Semester: A full semester internship in India or abroad is in store for students. This internship is recommended to be undertaken at five star hotels only. It not only provides insights to students about the bigger picture of culinary operations but also provides opportunity to gain pre-placement offer letters for exemplary performances during this internship.
Internships are rigorous and they are supposed to be that way. Working long hours, repetition of work tasks, handling stress situations, managing specific tasks, are just a few highlights of what’s in store during this semester.
The Fifth Semester: Besides academics, this semester majorly focusses on placements which comprises of multiple selection / elimination rounds such as aptitude tests, personal interviews, group discussions and trade tests. SSCA conducts a one week ‘Back to Basics’ training session to strengthen student’s confidence in appearing placement interviews.
Students also get an opportunity to represent SSCA at inter college / national level competitions. SSCA usually participates in competitions held in Pune, Mumbai, Surat and Manipal. Students also get to handle food stalls of SSCA within SIU campus, the major one being the SIU Convocation Day which is held in October / November / December every year.
The Sixth / Last Semester: Before its farewell time, students get an opportunity to undertake a live culinary pop-up project. This is the culmination and application of knowledge gained through various courses in the previous semesters. Students handle the pop up live culinary project for a one week duration. Students generate a start-up fund by investing around Rs. 5000/- per student, run the restaurant or bakery operations by handling all aspects involved and gain a decent profit at the end of its project. This experience gives the essential insights into entrepreneurship ventures, which students may intend to undertake in the near future.
Bidding farewell to our students to whom we have groomed over the past three years is a heavy thought. But yes, it’s time for students to leave their nest and wander around the world. Some students choose employment while some prefer to gain higher education. Some may become exceptional culinarians while some may pursue a totally different career path. Irrespective of whatever path our students choose, SSCA always remains connected with our students via Alumni meetings and gatherings. Chef Manoj Patkar is associated with SSCA right from its pre-opening stage and has seen the institute grow in terms of quality and quantity. One can send email to Chef Manoj at dydirector@ssca.edu.in to gain further insights about SSCA.

Chef Manoj Patkar Deputy Director SSCA

Caution Notice