Johnson & Wales University

This past Saturday, JWU had the pleasure of hosting Brown University students to come learn how to bake international desserts with the Pastry Arts Club. Each table is assigned a different dessert and we get to teach the Brown students how to make it.

I helped with it last year and was really excited to do it again. I even saw the people I taught last year and they remembered me so it was cool to see that they remembered me and wanted to come back to do it again.

My group and I made a melktert from South Africa. Other tables were making desserts like green tea mochi balls, cannolis and creme brulees (2 of my personal favorite desserts!) flan, raspberry sacher tortes, and macarons.

It’s a great experience for both schools. It’s nice for Brown students to come see the school and experiment in the kitchen and it’s nice for us to interact with some other students our own age who are studying things like engineering and pre-med and sharing our passion with them.

At the end of the day, we set up a buffet of everyone’s hard work and dig in! Ever since I started my vegan lifestyle, I hadn’t had much pastry or even egg product since I’ve been spending my cheat days eating mostly meat and cheese. Cracking into a cup of creme brulee surely hit the spot!

It’s been a very busy few weeks for me but thankfully I have some breathing time and a chance to sit and make some posts for the JWU blog.

One of my big  thing these past few weeks has been my Bistro. As a FSM student, you get to take a class called Bistro 4061. Essentially, you get to run a bistro from start to finish. You get put into a management group and you are either a Front of House manager or Executive Chef. Leading up until your Bistro day, you are busy putting everything together. We had to come up with a menu, seating plan, schedules for each member of our staff, plate designs, cost cards, recipes, food ordering, an income statement and some other aspects.

It all leads up to your Bistro day. Bistro meets twice a week and one of those days consists of a double class. So instead of it being 9:20-11:05, it’s 9:20-1:20. The first half is spent getting everything ready. As a FOH manager I was overseeing the set up of the Bistro and organizing our waitstaff. The executive chef is in the back kitchen overseeing all the food prep. Your guests start coming in at about 11:30 and they get treated to a Bistro that is designed by students and executed by students.

Last Monday we had our Bistro for over 20 people. We served steamed mussels in white wine sauce with grilled French bread, a roasted pear salad with goat cheese walnuts and dried cranberries, Parmesan crusted beef tenderloin with grilled asparagus and mushroom risotto, and a frangipane cake with cherry compote and port.

One of the great things is each guest gets to fill out an anonymous comment card. They rate everything from ambiance to food presentation to quality. You get to see all those results and see all your hard work get paid off. One of our servers got thrown with 3 separate allergies at 3 separate tables but she handled it so well and a lot of our comments involved giving her praise for her professionalism. It’s great to be able to see what you did well on and what you can work on because after all,it is a learning experience!

I admit, I was really nervous for this class going into it. I had been to 2 of my friend’s Bistros beforehand and did not know how well I would be able to do it but I would definitely do it again! It’s a rewarding and fun experience that you actually get a lot of hands on learning from. Except next time I’d rather have it happen when I was not losing my voice!

Sentiero degli Dei

On the Monday following Easter I had the amazing opportunity to walk along the Sentiero degli Dei, translated to the Path of the Gods. I had heard about this amazing trail from a family member that had recently traveled to Italy and have been intending to go since arriving in Castellamare in March. It was difficult to find a way to Bomerano, where the trail started, via public transportation. Lucky for me however, our awesome tour guide, Audrey, arranged for several of my classmates, our professor, and a few of her friends to take a private bus. The wait was well worth it! 

We started our day at 10am, sack lunch included and departed for Bomerano. As we began our way up the trail one of the first things we ran into was a young boy and his pony. (picture below) He informed us that everyday he walked his pony. They sat so peacefully on the side of the hill and I tried to imagine living his life. It was an instant mood boost, I was in love with day already. 

The entrance to the path

As we continued along our way we were accompanied by many, many other people, especially families. Audrey told us that it was a popular thing to do the day after Easter. Almost everyone had picnics with them of left over food from the day before. Some even carried tables and chairs and walked along the path until they found a place to settle down and enjoy lunch. We could hear music playing throughout the mountain, traditional southern Italian tunes. The whole scene felt like a celebration and I’ve never been as happy as I was to be a part of it. Everyone was laughing and it almost didn’t seem real how perfect the weather was, and how gorgeous the scenery was, surrounded by families just happy to be with each other. I loved that instead of being at work on a Monday morning, that everyone got to enjoy lunch on the side of a mountain instead….what a life!

The walk was absolutely beautiful. We could see all the way along the coast to the island of Capri. There were flowers everywhere and rosemary bushes which we used to season our lunches. Below is a pictures of a tiny house built into the side of the mountain where goats lived. We hiked up a little higher just to see them up close. Especially Audrey could not have been happier to “meet the little guys.” Towards the end of our trip we even ran into a fresh water stream with water clean enough to drink. I could have sworn it tasted better than any water I’d had before. 

We ended our trip in Nocello, a neighboring town to the gorgeous Positano. It was absolutely a picture perfect day and I’m already looking forward to doing it again someday!

#IHTM Italy 2014 #JWU Michaela

Paris, Je t’aime.

This past weekend I had the absolute pleasure of traveling to Paris, France. I had extremely high expectations as to what I was about to experience. After the trip was over I can honestly say that those expectations were met and even exceeded. Paris is such a beautiful place with so much to offer. So many people from all over the world grace the streets filled with culture as well as a balance between modern and old architecture. Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time was honestly breathtaking. I walked up the stairs from the Champ De Mars Metro stop and there it was with all its glory. It was a surreal experience to be standing there looking up at such a world famous marvel. Laying in the grass looking up at such a beautiful structure got me thinking of how extremely lucky I am to be experiencing this at such a young age. Not to be morbid, but I had two close aunts pass away last year alone, and neither of them got to really experience what the world had to offer. To be able to say that I have been to the places that I have been to as young as I am is truly a blessing. We also saw the Palace of Versailles which was so incredibly large. It must be nice to actual have the option of getting lost in your home. I experienced one of the most magical moments of my life in Paris in front of the Notre Dame. My friends and I went to Notre Dame on Easter Sunday at night and we discovered a man using an amp as well as a microphone performing right outside of Notre Dame. There were hundreds of people surrounding him which made him claim that it was the biggest crowd he had seen in the 10 years that he has been a street performer. The reason this was such a magical moment for me was not just because of the obvious reasons like I could see both the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame all lit up from where I was standing. It was magical because of all of the love and acceptance that was in the air at that moment. Everyone was dancing and smiling, forgetting that we are all different but rather focusing on things that are universal, like happiness, love, and acceptance. The world is only so large and in order to survive, we all need to learn how to coexist. I can leave that moment honestly saying that it was the greatest moment of my entire life. It has inspired me and lit a fire in me to spread love and acceptance throughout the world more so than I have before. Thank you, Paris, for teaching me things about myself that I didn’t even knew existed. 

Brendan Brocato

High-res Hey guys! 

Although its a while, it has been a super busy quarter! Between being a full time student with 2 jobs & preparing for a fashion show that’s coming up next Saturday (that I am designing for), I haven’t had the chance to share with you guys! But I am changing that today. The picture you are viewing right now is a shadow box in the Yena Center that my partner & I, Kristina Almeida, we’re asked to put together. We weren’t sure on what to do at first, then Kristina came up with a great idea of the many ways to wear a scarf. We tied the scarfs, took our own pictures for the shadow box then executed our idea. I am pretty pleased with our end result. 

Happy viewing!

Hey guys!

Although its a while, it has been a super busy quarter! Between being a full time student with 2 jobs & preparing for a fashion show that’s coming up next Saturday (that I am designing for), I haven’t had the chance to share with you guys! But I am changing that today. The picture you are viewing right now is a shadow box in the Yena Center that my partner & I, Kristina Almeida, we’re asked to put together. We weren’t sure on what to do at first, then Kristina came up with a great idea of the many ways to wear a scarf. We tied the scarfs, took our own pictures for the shadow box then executed our idea. I am pretty pleased with our end result.

Happy viewing!

Amalfi and Positano, The Dream Coasts of Italy

Last Wednesday, our group went to visit two luxury hotels located alone the coast line, Belmond Hotel Caruso in Ravello that besides the Almafi Coast and Relais & Chateaux on the cliff next to Positano that overlooks the view of coast and Pistano. It is one of the most unforgettable day trip. The road to Ravello and Positano was rugged, where the car had to drive up and down the mountain along the tough mountain roads. The weather was bad too, cloudy, wind, and cold. However, the view along the mountain road was fantastic and the hotels were both very impressive, which made the trip become a pleasant memory for me.

Due to the unique terrain, both of these two hotels are constructed on the cliffs facing the Mediterranean. The price range for both hotels are similar, starting from around €500 per night as average. They are both luxury five-star hotels and both enjoy the same level of fame, but on some aspects, they are very different. The Public Relation person Iolanda Mansi in Hotel Caruso and the Sales and Marketing Manager Agostino Piccolo in Relais & Chateaux gave us the be set explanation of their hotels. Belmond Hotel Caruso and Relais & Chateaux have their own attractivenesses.
Mrs. Mansi divided us into three groups and showed us around Hotel Caruso. When first stepped into the hotel lobby, the elegant painted roof and the chandelier caught my eyes. It was the typical ancient upscale decoration of a Italian roof. There are 120 to 140 rooms available in this hotel for customers. To me, the most impressive part of this hotel is its swimming pool, which is build outdoor on the platform besides the cliff. The pool is big enough and warm enough for guests to swim there even in a cold weather. Guests are able to relax themselves in the warm water while enjoy the entire view of Almafi Coast and Mediterranean. There was a net besides the pool, in case that someone may fall out of the pool by accident.

According to Mansi, the hotel has six free shuttles per day for guests to go to the Almafi Coast, three in the morning and three in the afternoon, of which the schedules are fixed. There are only less than 20% employees in Hotel Caruso are international, most of whom work in the food department. Their biggest markets are guests from United States and United Kingdom, followed by Italian, which means they don’t really need a lot of international employees. As long as some of their native employees are able to communicate in English, there would be no problem. Plus, more native employees will know the local situation. The stratagem increases the employment rate and dramatically promoted the development of local economy in Almafi Coast Area, where almost everyone makes a living on travel and tourism. It was a pity that Mansi didn’t show us how the rooms look like in Hotel Caruso. In my opinion, Hotel Caruso is more of a local traditional Italian-style high end luxury hotel.

When it comes to Relais & Chateaux, Mr. Piccolo gave us a tour of the entire hotel, where all the highlight of this hotel are pointed out. The most impressive part of Relais & Chateaux is how much they pay attention to details and to the conservation of environment. From their exquisite painting on the door of the restroom, to picture that placed at the entrance of the restaurant showing guests the restaurant’s dress code for different meals, everywhere is full of their carefulness to their customers. On the public balcony of Relais & Chateaux, we can not only overlook the breathtaking view on both the coast and the town of Pistano, but also feel the sunbath in the afternoon lining on the retro bench. Many famous people have come to this balcony and sited on the elegant painted bench. Every room has the same possibility to have an amazing view on their own balcony.

According to Mr. Piccolo, the hotel improve itself based on customers feedback every year when it comes to their low season. There are two ways of interact with their customers. One way is through their Facebook page. When guests say something about the hotel, the hotel employees always try to reply and understand what need to be improved. The other way is through the hotel feedback book. Relais & Chateaux learnt that many guests wished that they could have done spa within the facility from their feedback.

It cannot change the outside appearance of the hotel in order to preserve the local natural environment, which give it a big challenge of building new facilities such as a spa. Fortunately, they finally figured out solutions. The rooms on high floors viewing more of the entire coast has less space out of their rooms. Everyone has equal opportunity to choose their rooms based on their preference. They converted an old storage into a small spa and gym with a unique view of the valley. The other thing I learnt from Piccolo is that there should always be a back-up plan. He had an example when a famous person came to Relais & Chateaux one night while all other rooms are sold out. They sold the small room on the top floor of the facility which has a 360 division view of the entire place to her and left her a good impression. This hotel had done a great job on customer service and emergency problem solving.

There are only 59 rooms accommodating over one hundred guests at a time I n Relais & Chateaux Hotel, but there are about 130 employees serving all the guests. Piccolo said that at least one guest will be served with one employee because real luxury hotel is when guests feel at home. The luxury concept showed in that verything was included in Theron rate except for the spa. Their biggest target market are people from United States, French, and Italy. Their two new potential markets are China and Brazil. The other major markets are Russia and Israel. Among all of their guests, 30-40% are repeat guests. Relais & Chateaux Group has other luxury hotels located in other major tourism cities in Europe such as Milan and Paris. All of these elements above determined that Relais & Chateaux requires more international employees than Hotel Caruso. Most employees are expected to speak Italian, French, and English fluently.
As far as I’m concerned, the two Almafi Coast and Pistano are become more and more popular as the people’s living standard improve. There are a lot of potential opportunity for people in Hotel and Tourism Industry. Relais & Chateaux is more attractive to me if I would like to pursue my career along the Almafi and Pistano Coast, because of its international environment. Of course there are more challenges here. Probably before I decided to start my career here, I would come first with my future husband during our honeymoon trip!
Chenlijun Dong (Sherry)

Suit UP!

Hello, my name is Shannen. I am an International Hotel and Tourism Management major at Johnson & Wales University. I am currently studying abroad in Italy. My time so far in Italy has been amazing, I have visited so many awesome places with classmates. Our most current excursion was visiting two 5-star hotels overlooking the beautiful Amalfi Coast.

The First Hotel we visited was Hotel Caruso which was once an 11th century palace. It is located in Ravello, Italy. One night stay at this gorgeous property will cost you a minimum of $552. However, with that large price tag you will get breathtaking views some incredible amenities. Some of the amenities include breakfast from their wonderful restaurant, a fitness center, complimentary daily boat tour, tutors to entertain your children, and of course my favorite part the infinity pool. The infinity pool was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

The second hotel we visited was the San Pietro hotel located in Positano, Italy. This hotel is a celebrity hotspot. Some of the people who have stayed there include Rhianna and George Clooney. This is also the hotel where Jessica Beil and Justin Timberlake said their vows. This hotel will run you about $1519.This hotel like Hotel Caruso has some awesome amenities that will make you feel like a celebrity. Some of this amenities include a private yacht to rent, complimentary two-hour cruises, a tennis court, a pool overlooking the ocean, and of course the private beach.

I loved visiting the hotels, however I must admit that was not my favorite part. My favorite part was everybody was dressed up for the experience. All of my classmates looked amazing and it was cool seeing their unique personal professional style. Overall it was a fantastic day and fantastic experience. 

Until next time, Shannen

An Unexpected Lunch Date

Last Wednesday the group visited the cities of Positano and Ravello for two hotel tours.  We started our day at Hotel Caruso in Ravello. This five star hotel had everything I expected a five star to have and more. They had a breath-taking view of the coast from their beautiful terrace right outside of the lobby as well as a sitting area inside that actually felt like a living room with a grand piano that they use during the evening .  After touring Hotel Caruso we went on a tour of the town of Ravello. The first  place that I walked into was  a cute little cameo shop with beautiful rings, necklaces, and bracelets. They had a lot of different pieces that were hand made from coral that were absolutely beautiful. The nice part about this shop though was all the pictures that the owner had in the store of the famous people that had stopped by the shop over the years such as Nicholas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson, and even Hilary Clinton.  After some shopping my friend, Jean and I  walked around hoping to just find some soup but instead we found a gem at a nearby hotel.

                When we walked into this hotel was that it was an older hotel that was not as glamorous as the Hotel Caruso but we figured that they would have a decent restaurant. We got in the elevator and took it up to the restaurant and we were extremely amazed. The restaurant in this hotel had one wall that was just completely filled with windows looking out to the coast. I honestly couldn’t believe what I was seeing because it was just so clear and so beautiful it was like something that I had never seen before. We were seated right in front of one these grand windows and we just took in the few for a while.  Jean and I ended up having a two course lunch. The first course was a little pancake with cheese and balsamic dressing. At first it seemed like a weird combination of foods but it tasted absolutely delicious.  For our second course we did indulge a little and we both ordered medium rare steak medallions with a red wine sauce and baked potato wedges. This was the most delicious steak medallion that I ever had because it was so tender and juicy. Jean and I ate our food in silence because we were enjoying the meal and this experience so much that we didn’t even want to talk to one another.  The meal came out to around 60 Euro but it was worth every cent because it was such a remarkable experience from the service, the view and especially the food.

Ravello & Positano

On Wednesday April 16th, we had the opportunity to visit 2 leading luxury hotels in Ravello and Positano:

Hotel Caruso in Ravello

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The hotel is located on the mountains overlooking the town of Ravello and the Amalfi Coast. The hotel is unique in that all the hotel rooms are facing the ocean with either a decent size private garden or french balcony.

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The hotel also have an infinity pool that gives the guest an illusion that the pool and the ocean are joint together. 

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The view from the hotel balcony were spectacular, unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to visit the hotel rooms, but as our guide Iolanda told us, all rooms in Hotel Caruso are identical, except for the view of the Amalfi Coast.

Hotel San Pietro in Positano

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It was a great experience getting tours of the establishments, both hotels have their own attractive factors, but in comparison, I prefer Hotel San Pietro for its location, and the its distance to the beach, and other amenities it provide for the guests. I like the decoration of the lobby, guests are able to enjoy both the view of the garden as well as the ocean through the full length windows while they check-in or just relaxing on the couches. 

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The Hotel San Pietro offers many amenities such as complementary meals, free transportation into the town of Positano, a 2 hour complementary yacht ride in the morning during the summer season (from June till September), yoga, gym, and spa at extra cost. The hotel also have a 1 Star Michelin restaurant located on its premises. 

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Each room are decorated differently, but all rooms have an ocean view with a decent size balcony depending on the room type.

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Hotel tours in Ravello & Positano - IHTM

Due to my unfortunate ease of getting motion sickness I was glad I decided to take a motion sickness medication prior to leaving for Ravello. To be able to enjoy the absolutely breathtaking views from the bus was amazing. 

The first hotel we toured was the Belmond Hotel Caruso in Ravello. One of the leading hotels in the World, it most definitely lives up to its title. Each room has something different about it so even the most frequent of guests here has something to look forward to in every stay. 

The most breathtaking pool I have ever laid eyes on. This hotel has an advantage of having their pool high up so there is nothing to cast shade over it, causing the pool to naturally be warm.

Standing next to the pool.

This man was the most important person I have met on this trip so far. The Golden Keys represent such an important part of this industry. It was sincerely an honor to meet him and be able to take a photo with him. 

"In 1929, Ferdinand Gillet, head concierge at the Hotel Scribe in Paris, founded Les Clefs d’Or. This association enabled concierges throughout Europe to share ideas with one another. Today, there are 3,000 members in 39 countries. The members wear golden keys in the form of a lapel pin. The common interest of members is to promote friendship so they may better assist international travelers and tourists by developing a hotel fraternity." -people.howstuffworks.com/concierge & aabri.com/manuscripts/08131.pdf

The second hotel tour we took was at the San Pietro hotel in Positano. The hotel lobby was set up in an open landscape layout with couches, tables, and furniture to split up the areas. The lobby was built to show the sea from wherever you sit in the lobby.

Sitting on the largest private balcony in Positano at the hotel San Pietro.

This hotel & location has such beauty to it. It is understandable why celebrities like Rihanna have stayed here.