Sophisticated table setting

The Singapore National Restaurant Skills Competition (SNRSC) is an engaging competition organised by the Food & Beverage Managers’ Association Singapore (FBMA) and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA). Various teams from the food & beverage (F&B) industry compete in a series of tasks, with their speed, product knowledge, professionalism and culinary skills put to the test.

The finals will be held at Conrad Centennial Singapore on April 30, 2013. In the lead-up to the grand finale, we have a chat with 7 of the finalist teams to check out their preparations for the big day, and learn more about how their training in the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications System (WSQ) have benefited them.

1. What prompted you to participate in this competition? Did going through WSQ training give you more confidence in the competition?

Team from Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore, Singapore National Restaurant Skills Competition 2013
Team from Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore

Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore: We like to challenge ourselves, further enhance our skills and provide a better dining experience for our guests. The WSQ training definitely came in handy in preparing for the competition.

Ramada & Days Hotel Singapore at Zhongshan Park: We were encouraged to participate by our Restaurant Manager, Keshavan Nair, who wanted us to gain competition experience and to show us that the F&B industry is not just about serving guests and clearing plates; it takes skills and a great attitude to be in this industry.

Hotel Miramar: We want to build up our confidence when facing challenges and brush up our skills and abilities. After going through WSQ training, it definitely encourages us to have more confidence to join in any related competition.

Pan Pacific Orchard: The WSQ training we received gave us new knowledge such as equipment safety and proper food storage. It equipped us with the necessary skills which in turn gave us more confidence in the midst of the stressful competition conditions.

Conrad Centennial Singapore: It is a good opportunity to showcase our talent and experience while setting a challenge for ourselves at the same time. Going through some of the WSQ programmes have helped better prepare us for the competition requirements and we have attended the following WSQ programmes:

  • WSQ Basic Food Hygiene
  • WSQ Customize and Personalized Service
  • WSQ Work Safely

Hotel InterContinental Singapore: We joined SNRSC because we saw this competition as a platform for us to apply everything that we have learned in the hospitality industry. The WSQ training really helped us a lot and boosted our confidence as we participated.

Holiday Inn: With a keen interest in the industry and what it entails, we felt that the competition would provide us with good exposure and experience. To a great extent, yes, the WSQ training provides us with a solid foundation of service in the F&B environment, which is integral in providing an excellent guest experience. With that, it has also helped us to understand the competition’s expectations better.

2. How long did you have to train for the competition? What’s the biggest challenge/difficulty during training?

Ramada & Days Hotel Singapore at Zhongshan Park: Juggling training and operations was a huge challenge but we managed to squeeze in a few hours each day to practise and improve on our performance. It shows that hard work pays off! Not knowing what to expect was another difficulty, as we did not have experience in such competitions.

Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore: Less than a month. The biggest challenge is coming up with the ideal menu, creating and fine-tuning the dishes to make sure that they are perfect.

Hotel Miramar: It takes around a month’s time for the training. We feel quite tense and nervous all the time and it’s a challenge to overcome that.

Team from Hotel Miramar, Singapore National Restaurant Skills Competition 2013
Team from Hotel Miramar

Pan Pacific Orchard: To us, everyday is about preparation and training! The toughest part was coordinating our work schedules to find the time to prepare for the competition together. Besides, one of us wasn’t formally trained in cocktails/mocktails and learnt all we can from our bartender. Naturally we struggled to create the beverage that we want to and a lot of fine tuning was required. Ultimately, the satisfaction of getting the formula and recipe right is very rewarding.

Conrad Centennial Singapore: We started our training immediately after our team registration, preparing first for the qualifying rounds and later the finals when we got selected. The biggest challenge is juggling between work and training.

Hotel InterContinental Singapore: Let’s put it this way: we have been training ever since we chose this industry and we apply what we have learnt into the competition.

Holiday Inn: We took a few weeks to train for the competition and our challenges varied with our segments. For example, in the napkin folding round, one of us adopted the idea of folding animals which was more feasible with towels. Having to use a standard-sized napkin to create the various animals was a challenge. As for another of our members, the cocktails were concocted with multiple taste-tests – that had his tastebuds going a little numb!

3. What difficulties or setbacks did you face during the competition and how did you overcome them? Did the WSQ training experience help in any way?

Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore: The results achieved at times may not be up to our expectation. Hence, we have to put in more training hours, and review and make the necessary changes after each session. Having a positive mindset helps as well.

Ramada & Days Hotel Singapore at Zhongshan Park: At times we forgot what we had to do because we were so nervous, but in the end we managed to recompose ourselves. The one thing that helped was to remain calm and keep smiling.

Hotel Miramar: To overcome any panicky feelings, we always had to remind ourselves to stay calm and think positively. We also seek our F&B Manager’s advice which helps improve our overall performance.

Pan Pacific Orchard: One setback that happened during the qualifying round was realising that we were missing equipment required for beverage making. However, we were able to borrow what we needed from ITE so that saved the day! During the napkin folding round, the napkins provided were very well starched and not easy to handle. However, we gave our best and managed to handle it very well.

Conrad Centennial Singapore: The team has to come up with several ideas in order to provide an unforgettable dining experience, from the welcome mocktail, wine pairing with appetiser and main course – it’s like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. The WSQ program has indeed helped the team in the preparation.

Hotel InterContinental Singapore: During the competition, we felt nervous because this is our first time joining a national competition. We also learnt from areas that have been taught in WSQ training, such as Interact with Guests, Work Safely, Provide Service Excellence and many more.

Team from Hotel InterContinental Singapore, Singapore National Restaurant Skills Competition 2013
Team from Hotel InterContinental Singapore

Holiday Inn: During the qualifying round, we found that we were missing an ingredient for the cocktail garnishing. Thankfully, the WSQ training has taught us to be professional and confident. With a little spark of inspiration and creativity, we used ingredients that were available for the final product.

4. How do you remain calm and confident during the competition?

Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore: Being well prepared. Treating the competition as a learning opportunity and trusting in my team members helps.

Ramada & Days Hotel Singapore at Zhongshan Park: Preparation is the key. Our restaurant manager Kesh had coached us in every single step before the competition. We felt reassured knowing he is cheering us on from the side-lines.

Hotel Miramar: We think positively and look forward to the next challenge.

Pan Pacific Orchard: Being in the competition as a team provided the support and motivation to overcome our nervousness and to give the best we can. The training that we received prepared us well and we knew what was expected of us.

Conrad Centennial Singapore: Practise, practise and keep on practising to improve ourselves. The ongoing training gives us more confidence and better consistency.

Hotel InterContinental Singapore: During the competition, we tried to concentrate so that we can give my best. One of us found that singing his favourite song in his mind helps too!

Holiday Inn: We told ourselves that the objective for participating in the competition was for the exposure and experience.

Team from Holiday Inn, Singapore National Restaurant Skills Competition 2013
Team from Holiday Inn

5. How has WSQ training benefited your team in the preparation for the competition?

Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore: It helps improve our interaction with guests, preparing the food in a hygienic way and working safely throughout the course of competition.

Hotel Miramar: WSQ training has given us better confidence.

Pan Pacific Orchard: WSQ training has equipped us with the necessary knowledge which in turn gave us confidence in the midst of stressful competition conditions.

Conrad Centennial Singapore: It helps us focus on hygiene preparation, work safety and providing a personalised service to our dining guest.

Hotel InterContinental Singapore: The training has increased our confidence level and allowed us to learn new skills. We are able to do our tasks effectively and efficiently, face the judges and explain our presentation.

Holiday Inn: The training has steered us to understanding that great guest experience does not only come from the product, it is also about creating a wholesome environment which includes service, setting, delivery and more. Throughout the sessions, we have fostered even better working relationships with our colleagues.

6. What have you learnt throughout the whole competition?

Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore: Teamwork and perseverance are the elements of success.

Ramada & Days Hotel Singapore at Zhongshan Park: We have learnt that teamwork is very important as we needed to support one another to perform to the best of our abilities. We honestly went into the competition expecting the worst but hoping for the best, knowing the stiff competition that we faced. We have also learnt that without training it is impossible to do well in the competition.

Hotel Miramar: Team spirit and unity.

Pan Pacific Orchard: The competition broadened our knowledge of best practices and we got to see very innovative and original cocktail/mocktail creations. It is a great opportunity to have more exposure in the industry.

Conrad Centennial Singapore: We are able to work as a team and foster team unity.

Team from Conrad Centennial Singapore, Singapore National Restaurant Skills Competition 2013
Team from Conrad Centennial Singapore

Hotel InterContinental Singapore: The whole competition taught us how to have the right attitude, use time productively, be flexible, and most importantly, to always wear a big smile to bring a positive aura not just to ourselves but also to others.

Holiday Inn: Creativity can make a difference. We were impressed with each team’s creativity be it in terms of presentation or concoction.

7. Any advice for future participants?

Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore: Have passion in whatever you are doing.

Ramada & Days Hotel Singapore at Zhongshan Park: Allocate time to train together as a team, and most of all, have fun doing it!

Hotel Miramar: Try to join any WSQ workshop and training because you really can gain loads of knowledge and confidence.

Pan Pacific Orchard: Just have fun during the competition and don’t give yourself too much pressure.

Conrad Centennial Singapore: Keep on training in preparation for the competition. Show confidence and work together as a team.

Hotel InterContinental Singapore: We advise all future participants to take up WSQ training because it is very informative and helpful not just in the industry but also to our personal lives by providing us with the right skills, right knowledge and also the right attitude.

Holiday Inn: Approach the competition with an open mind; be creative and adventurous. WSQ training is definitely something good that individuals should undertake. It equips one with the knowledge and foundation to be better at what you do.

Stay tuned to Sparklette as we will be bringing you the exciting culinary action from the competition finals at Conrad Centennial Singapore on April 30, 2013!