Swiss Hotel Management School students can go above and beyond their standard semester hotel and event management courses and enroll in Masterclasses, learning from experts at the top of their crafts.
Add your own flair to a classic cocktail. Pick apart dazzling gemstones and luxurious jewels. Put on a headset and enter a digital new world. Students at Swiss Hotel Management School (SHMS) can do all of this and more by taking part in any of the Masterclasses offered each semester on both the Caux and Leysin campuses. The passion for knowledge and a high level of education at SHMS is a staple for students and faculty, so it is no surprise that the school connects students with master teachers for a more nuanced exploration into their respective crafts.
These courses dig deeper into what students already learn from SHMS lecturers in class, who are industry experts in their own right, to develop a more extensive understanding of individual, specialized subjects. Beyond general hospitality courses or hotel and events management courses, SHMS Masterclasses have included Public Speaking with an acclaimed international conference speaker, Wedding Planning with a 20-year industry veteran, Luxury Champagne with a Perrier-Jouet expert, and a technology-focused Masterclass which explores Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) within the scope of the hospitality and tourism sectors.
These Masterclasses are open to all students on either campus. In March at the Leysin campus, students made chocolate and learned how to identify quality from chocolatier Ezekiel Garcia, a master of chocolate and head of the laboratory at Chocokiel where he has spent years creating his own recipes and pralines. During those two hours, SHMS students listened and learned from the master, occasionally snapping a photo or video on their phones, and had personalized guidance as they mixed, measured, piped, and regulated the temperatures of their chocolate. Dark, milk, or white - chocolate lined every counter and a delicious, sweet smell wafted throughout the kitchen as the students and master worked on their desserts. As a bonus, students could also bring their creations home at the end.
Such a Masterclass is indeed a different course than anything the students learn during practical lessons. For the Souffle Masterclass held in Caux, students broke into groups of three and learned to make five different kinds of souffles, from the traditional cheese souffle to a seafood souffle. SHMS Master of Arts student Kar Wing Chan relishes the opportunity for a hands-on experience that is more typical for Bachelor of Arts students than master’s students. “I get a chance to do practical cooking,” says Chan. Her program does have practical coursework and practice but does not focus on the nitty gritty details of something specific like making souffles.
For hospitality bachelor students, they are most interested in the specialized nature of these courses and how having these different courses in hotel management makes their education personalized. Having specialized knowledge can set them apart from others when pursuing their hospitality careers. First semester bachelor’s student Elizaveta Diachenko explains that food and beverage Masterclasses are important to general hospitality students. “Hospitality is connected to food and kitchen in general, so it’s always good if we know some basics and details on how to make different dishes.” She notes that there are many beverage Masterclasses such as beer or cocktails, and also wishes that there are more diverse cooking and food offerings.
In the end, students choose the Masterclasses they are interested in and have fun participating. “I chose to do the Masterclass because my friends are doing it,” Kar Wing Chan laughs, while Elizaveta Diachenko says playfully, “I want to try to cook something because after class I can eat it.”
While some students have only tried taking Masterclasses once so far, there are others like bachelor’s student Megan Ganssler who have already taken a few and are signed up for more. Megan says that she wants to take full advantage of what the Masterclasses have to offer outside of her hotel and event management courses. “In Masterclasses, you zoom in on one specific area. For example, in semester one, we do kitchen and beverage theory, so we learn a general idea of all there is to offer, but the Masterclasses give those who want to learn a little bit extra about a specific subject the opportunity to know more.”
Philippe Gueltzer, who runs in the Masterclass program from Caux Palace, emphasizes the notable difference in how students experience these extracurricular courses and their degree courses. “It’s a different kind of course,” he says. “The students are more relaxed, they don’t have to wear their school uniforms and it is a completely different feeling.” He hopes that these different courses stick better with students as a refreshing change of pace from regular classes.
From what students say, it seems like SHMS Masterclasses are indeed making a difference in students’ learning. Says Bachelor of Arts student Daniel Zhang, “As first years, we have very little real-world experience. With the Masterclass, we bring masters into the school to teach certain subjects, and even if it’s just one day, it’s an eye-opening experience.”
Most recently, a Masterclass organized by Asahishuzo Co., Ltd, the creators of Dassai, took place on May 2nd and May 3rd in Leysin and Caux respectively. Asahishuzo evolved from a small brewery in Yamaguchi Prefecture to becoming revolutionaries of the sake market when they created Dassai, known as the most disruptive sake from Japan. Students and faculty had the opportunity to learn about sake from these masters who regularly collaborate with Michelin-star chefs around the world.