George Brown Courses

By Hina Jasim

James Carnevale, a former graduate of the Food and Beverage Management program at George Brown, credits his success to the program.

“George Brown taught me how to serve and read people,” Carnevale said. “It taught how to deal with my employees and customers.”

Running a restaurant is something that requires loads of education and experience. What’s the starting point to be a restaurateur? People need to think about how they would start in the restaurant business and the answer firstly is education. For example, George Brown College has a Food and Beverage Management program and Centennial College has a Restaurant Management program. Both these programs teach students how to start in the restaurant business and work their way up to become a restaurateur.

Mike Shariff, the coordinator of the Restaurant Management program at Centennial College has been coordinating and teaching for nearly a year now.

“The restaurant management program is the most popular program at our college,” Shariff said. “The biggest one.”

The program is two years long with an internship at the end. Students are given an opportunity to work at any restaurant or hotel for hands on experience.

“Most of the courses in the program are business related, which I believe restaurants are focused on,” Shariff said.

Courses in the program range from financial management, dining room management, Human Resources relations.

“We take nearly 275 students each year in the fall semester,” Shariff said.

The Food and Beverage Management program at George Brown College is another example of where students can learn the background of the restaurant industry.  It’s a two year program and students learn about food and beverage cost control, finance and business communications.

Adrian Caraello, the program coordinator has a very extensive background in the restaurant business himself. Along with teaching three programs in the restaurant field at George Brown, he’s worked at Canoe restaurant as a server and worked up to manager.

“I started out as a dishwasher in the business and worked up to where I am now,” Caraello said. “I started out in the kitchen, went to server then host.”

The program gears students to make their mark in the industry and finally be a restaurateur.

“Our students learn about product knowledge and working in the kitchen. Our main focus is to get students ready for restaurant management,” Caraello said.

According to the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice Association (CRFA) website, the restaurant industry employs more than one million people, taking in nearly $60 billion in annual sales. Every million dollar in sales creates 27 new jobs. Nearly 22 per cent of Canadians found their first job in the restaurant industry, 34 per cent dream of owning their restaurant or bar. According to Stats Canada, the foodservice industry directly employs more than 1,084, 500 people in Canada and according to the George Brown website, the restaurant industry employs more than 120,000 people in Toronto. There are close to 9,000 restaurants, bars and clubs in Toronto, with 44 graduates from George Brown working at the Fairmont Hotel.

“Some students will start in the industry right away, others will work their way up,” Caraello said.

James Carnevale is a former graduate of the Food and Beverage program at George Brown and is now running a successful ice cream restaurant called, Punto Gelato. The restaurant is located at 146 Cumberland Ave. near Avenue Road and Bloor Street, at the core of the Downtown crowd.

“I learned about accounting and dealing with money. There were a few courses on wine, which I didn’t realize were important until I came into the industry. The program teaches you great customer service skills and how to serve your customers,” Carnevale said.

After taking the two year program Carnevale graduated in June 2011 and started working at the restaurant as a general manager.

“I always knew I wanted to be in the restaurant industry I went to George Brown for culinary when I was 17 or 18 years old, I always wanted to do it,” Carnevale said.

To be in the restaurant business is one of the more competitive fields; you need an extensive background in the business and education along with it. For example, to be a restaurant manager, you need to have at least a college level degree in restaurant management, with three to five years in a management position in the industry.

“Students need to have leadership and organization skills, needing to when to prepare the food for an event and serving the food properly to customers,” Shariff said.

Being the restaurant industry, whether you are working one or own the restaurant, there are certain skills and characteristics you need to have to succeed in Toronto.

“Your talent and knowledge is looked at in the restaurant business,” Shariff said. “Skills are something that can be taught, for example I can teach you how to the utensils on the table but do you have the talent to do it. Talent is something you need to gain on your own…”

“To be in the restaurant business, you need to firstly be in a program like ours then put yourself out there. Exposing yourself in the industry, putting your name out,” Caraello said. “You need to have worked in all aspects of the restaurant business.”

“You need to know what you want to do in the business based on the wants and needs of the industry,” Shariff said. “The industry is a lot more competitive than it was a few years ago, we tell the students to look at the restaurant where they plan on working. We coach them for career developments and help them make portfolios.”

Owning or managing a restaurant comes with many responsibilities, not just with the business but the customers. Knowing who your customers are, depending on where your location is.

“I pretty much do everything here, open and close the restaurant, staffing issues and conveying back to the owner,” Carnevale said.

“The restaurant business is booming is Toronto, restaurants have changed their menus and there’s regional and fusion cuisine being offered,” Shariff said. “There are a lot more cultural foods out there, more diversity.”

When you’re a restaurateur, you are not only trying to run a successful business but also being a leader for your employees and your customers.

“If you`re restaurateur, you need to be a business person with financial responsibility. You have a sense of accomplishment when people come to your restaurant, they’re coming to dine in your creation,” Caraello said.

“You have a very limited social life; you need to understand work is everything. You need to make time for things, plans things ahead,” Carnevale said.

Being a restaurateur in Toronto means having the educational background and experience to go with it, with the programs offered at our colleges, people have that opportunity.

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