How can students of the cooking school gain practical experience in times of the coronavirus, now that the catering industry is at a standstill and the classrooms are too small to keep adequate distance? A question that the ROC of Amsterdam brought to the kitchens of RAI Amsterdam. Kitchens where normally thousands of meals a day are prepared and now there is enough space to offer students a learning experience.
Three days a week, 16 students of different levels come to the RAI to gain experience. They are taught in a professional environment by their own instructors and are also supervised by two RAI chefs, with a recognized teacher competence. Thinking in terms of possibilities is what keeps the kitchen of the RAI going these days, according to Rientz Mulder, the executive chef of RAI Amsterdam. “The ROCvA was looking for space and practical experience and we now have that available, the connection was made quickly. We are now examining whether we can expand this learning experience to more days per week or for other fields of study. In this way, the kitchen and our expertise are put to valuable use in these difficult times”, says Mulder.
"We have sought cooperation with the RAI so that here too our students can work on their practical skills in safe conditions, within a business environment. In this way we limit the learning deficit of our students, we can help them on their way to their practical exams. We are very happy with the opportunities that the RAI offers us here", says Peter Strijdonk, Training Manager of ROCvA, College Centrum.
Weekly meal for homeless people
The social face of RAI Amsterdam's chefs continues. Under the title ‘Heartwarming Amsterdam’, the RAI chefs are committed to the city. Every week they prepare a hot meal for 100 homeless people in Amsterdam. They make use the frozen stocks that cannot be processed in time in the RAI's business due to the coronavirus situation. The Salvation Army’s soup van then distributes these hot meals at three locations in Amsterdam.
Mulder is pleased that in this way they can resume their cooperation with the Salvation Army. “The harsh winter weather is hitting hard and makes life on the streets in Amsterdam impossible. To approach the hard-to-find target group, the Salvation Army has called on our cooperation. Before the coronavirus we also delivered food to the Salvation Army and the soup van every week. We had to stop doing this due to the coronavirus measures. Now the importance of a hot meal is essential and can even save lives. We are therefore happy to help our partner. Together we will get through the winter," says Mulder.
Cooperation with local partners expanded
At Mulder's initiative, the collaboration with local partners is constantly being expanded. “We work a lot with local Amsterdam suppliers. These often have an organic or social focus. We are processing more and more fresh products from the region. The idea behind this is to give the mostly international RAI visitors the 'taste of Amsterdam' with more organic and local food. Moreover, these often vulnerable suppliers have been helped with the RAI’s purchase and there is a lot of savings on transport, because the supply lines are short”, says Mulder.
However, due to the coronavirus situation, international RAI visitors stay at home, but this does not stop the RAI chefs. Mulder: “We are constantly looking for what we can do with our expertise, products and facilities, for the city and certainly also for our partners and local suppliers. For example, we have made tomato soup from tomatoes of Urban Nusery Osdorp and chicken soup from the Rondeel chickens. Both soups were made for care farm Hogerlust, which can sell the soups again. In this way we support both the local suppliers and the care farm.”
Read more about the RAI's CSR activities here.