In the food-map of Tamil Nadu, Chennai might boast of a vibrant restaurant scene. Around 450 kilometers away from Chennai, however, the temple city of Madurai is the place where the foodies can explore the state's own version of 'soul food.' Eateries in Madurai are dominated by family-run Quick Service Restaurants with cuisines that are profoundly influenced by Chettinad style preparation, which is known for its fiery flavors. But, when it comes to the sweet delicacies, especially Cakes and Pastries, people of Madurai do not contemplate much, as they have their own Jayaram Bakery, which has been a leading and reputed name in Madurai for Bakery products and Restaurants since 1966. With a capacity to manufacture 20,000 and above Cakes and Pastries, Jayaram group runs over 10 bakeries and restaurants across Madurai and Bangalore in the name of Madurai Idly Shop.
The expertise of over 50 years in making delicious and well-crafted cakes is not the sole reason why Jayaram Bakery stands out from the crowd. Unlike many traditional restaurant chains, who have always kept their secret ingredient hidden in their kitchens, Jayaram Bakery has opened a hotel management institute named Jayaram College of Hotel Management, where students can learn the secrets of the baker's craft, that too, right from the baker's oven. "Our expertise had always been in the food and hospitality services and we believe that it is important to transfer the knowledge we gained, so that the next generation can take up this tradition without losing the essence of what we have been doing for the past five decades," says Gautham Kumar, Principal, JCHM.
As an emerging institute in the hospitality education sector, JCHM has fine-tuned its curriculum with the changing dynamics of the industry.
Affiliated to Alagappa University, JCHM offers B. Sc Catering and Hotel Administration and Diploma in Catering and Hotel administration as its flagship programmes and provides five Craft Certificate Courses in vibrant areas including Food Production, Bakery and Confectionery, Food and Beverage Services, Front Office Administration and House Keeping.
Abode of Real-Time Learning
At present, the parent company has around 500 people working across the departments and the institute makes use of this expertise to give the students hands-on training that goes beyond the prescribed syllabus of the affiliated university. "We have one of the largest food production units in Madurai, where our student can work in real time under the guidance our own staff. It is a great add-on for the students because the hospitality education is all about learning while doing," opines Gautham.
As an emerging institute in the hospitality education sector, JCHM has fine-tuned its curriculum with the changing dynamics of the industry. "There many people in the academic sector who talk about focussing on the fundamentals. But, now we can see a lot of restaurants coming up with the Quick Service format and the Food Truck culture is also prominent in the major cities. While most of the institutes do not focus on training their students in the latest developments, we are sending our students to do an internship with these ventures, so that they can be prepared to work in any field after they graduate from here," explains Gautham. Being a major player in the food and hospitality industry for a long time has helped the institute's management to tie-up with reputed hotel chains like Taj Group, which further increases the opportunities for the students.
The extensive utilization of the expertise available in the industry can also be seen in the classrooms of JCHM, where the management has employed faculty members who have been working with various hotel chains before they took up teaching as a major profession. "The team of faculty members is a blend of teachers who have worked in the industry as well as working professionals. Certain modules like housekeeping and food production are taught only by the industry professionals," adds Gautham. The institute also invites guest lectures and conducts workshops to narrow the gap between the industry needs and academics.
Today, with all the necessary parameters like state-of-the-art infrastructure, experienced faculty members and meaningful industry tie-ups, Jayaram College of Hotel Management has many ambitious plans. One among them is to open a new student-driven cafï¿½ in the campus. "Cafï¿½ will be operated by students and they can also take the profit. Moreover, it will be a place for them to experiment with their culinary skills and would definitely instill an entrepreneurial spirit among the students. Now, we are already providing stipend during the course of their study through the "work while you learn" scheme wherein they can earn up to Rs. 6000 as they study, concludes Gautham.
Gautham Kumar, Principal
Gautham Kumar has earned an MBA degree from Nottingham University Business School, UK and an MSc degree in Food Production Management from University of Nottingham, UK. He is currently working as an Executive Director in Andal Foods Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore and as a Principal for a newly founded catering and bakery Technology college, 'Jayaram College of Hotel Management and Catering Technology', Madurai.