Elegantly Kittitian: PEP hospitality trainees impress potential employers
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (May 29, 2013) — Acting Director, National Skills Training Programme, Mrs June James, Tuesday May 28 invited top St. Kitts-based restaurateurs to sample the best of St. Kitts’ latest restaurant, Elegantly Kittitian. It was for a luncheon that she invited them.
Many would dismiss Elegantly Kittitian as a ‘virtual’ restaurant because it does not exist on register. But Mrs James has one up her sleeve because a group of 20 hospitality students under the People Employment Programme (PEP) have since January this year been camped at the Challengers Community Centre and it is here that Elegantly Kittitian is thriving.
The luncheon was attended by cream of the crop in the hospitality industry. There was Mr Verral Marshall of Marshall’s Restaurant. There was Mr Jason Pereira of Reggae Beach Restaurant. Not to be outdone were Mr Alex James of Serendipity Restaurant as was Mr Erickson Browne, Operations Manager Christophe Harbour who boasts of two restaurants, the Pavilion Restaurant and the Beach House.
They partook of the sumptuous luncheon and when Mr Pereira was asked to comment he said: “I am very impressed with the level of professionalism with the training, and with the students. The atmosphere is very friendly and very accommodating.
“It clearly shows that everybody is here trying to better themselves; they are here for a reason, they are here to learn, to grow and to find work and I think that it is a fantastic programme. I think it is led by talented people and so far we have made notes two, three people we feel are very qualified to fit into our environment.”
Mr Pereira, who was accompanied by assistant manager, Ms Marsha Hensley, and Chef Mr Alex Hobson, further said: “We have two names right now we want to approach and we want talk to them and hopefully, see if they might be a fit for our work environment that we have created. We all get along at Reggae; we are a big family over there.”
The restaurateur who took over from his father, Mr Garry Pereira, might have either not gotten his figures correct or was probably blown away by the professionalism displayed by the trainees, because at the end of the luncheon he had selected five of them; Mr Kevin Benjamin (the only male in the group), Ms Niyellia Hazel, Ms Nicole Perdereaux, Ms Anoncia Johnson, and Ms Cleressia Stapleton.
They will be tried out at Reggae Beach, the most popular beach restaurant in the Federation, as from next week. Mr Pereira advised them that they will be alternating on different days of the week and he advised them on how to get to Reggae Beach on the South East Peninsula by way of a bus that they would have to board at the Basseterre bus terminus.
Mr Erickson Browne, Operations Manager at Christophe Harbour, said that training was very important as far as the industry is concerned, and observed that the trainees had come out very well and he added that with time they will blossom. Asked if those trainees had a future at Christophe Harbour he said: “Of course! Continue training, keep smiling, yes, the door is open.”
Mr Alex James of the Serendipity commented that the students had presented themselves professionally. “When I came in here I was greeted with nice smiles; you could see the eagerness. From what I could see, they look like they are on to the right thing as long as they keep it up.
“Attitude is ninety percent the most important thing. They looked very positive, even the shy one, you could see she is a little shy, she is really trying.”
Mr Verral Marshall of the Marshall’s Restaurant, who was within hearing range, promptly added: “As Alex mentioned about the one that looks a bit shy, she is possibly going to be the star, because there are sometimes when someone is so shy and they get out of that shyness, they bloom to be something really special.”
According to Mr Marshall, the trainees were warm and friendly with big smiles and noted that there was hope for the programme and the trainers. While he was impressed by them and he feels that he could use one or two, he however observed that this is the time of the year that they cut down on their staff because it is a low tourist season.
“When I need to recruit I do not need to go very far, the only thing is that they are out at the wrong time. This time of the year is when we try to tone down on our staff, because it is low season,” said Mr Marshall. “They got to keep in touch with us, they know where I am. They can come by any time, fill out an application form and we can keep that on file and when we are ready to recruit then the information is there for us.”
The hospitality course is being facilitated by Mr Michael Guishard (food and beverage) and Mr Patrick Browne (food preparation).