Government aims to meet need for international chef training
The government says it plans to open an international cuisine college by 2014 that will provide 2,000 training places a year on diploma, foundation diploma and short courses.
The college will be set up under the Vocational Training Council (VTC) and will, according to the policy address, 'provide training for people aspiring to become professional chefs proficient in international cuisines' and 'promote the development of related sectors, such as tourism, catering, retail and wine trading'.
'It will attract outstanding members of the culinary profession from around the world,' said Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.
The Chinese Cuisine Training Institute was established under the VTC in Pok Fu Lam in 2000. Given that there were few well-known international cuisine schools in Asia, it was time for Hong Kong to dip into that market, a government source said. Courses may cover dishes from Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia, the source said.
Event management and serving skills would also be covered.
As the city has developed into a major wine trading centre since wine duty was abolished in 2008, the demand for wine experts was increasing.
The institute would look into how wines should be matched with different cuisines, the official said.
The cost of building the institute and its annual recurrent costs would be HK$500 million and HK$41 million respectively. A location for the institute has yet to be chosen, but one option being considered is Pok Fu Lam.
Hong Kong needs to train more newcomers in the face of high turnover in the catering industry.
Yeung Wai-sing, chairman of the Association for the Hong Kong Catering Services Management, estimates that more than 1,000 catering professionals retire, leave the business or head to the mainland every year. New blood is needed to serve the city's 14,000 restaurants, including 600 its Japanese and 300 Thai restaurants, he says.
Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, said that to retain talent, the government should consolidate the recognition of different professional qualifications.
The government also proposes to set up a new youth college with 420 places - also under the VTC - to offer career-oriented programmes.
This college would provide more support than existing schools for non-Chinese-speaking students and those with special educational needs. Chinese courses and facilities for the use of ethnic minorities - such as prayer rooms - may be provided, a source said.