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"Living this experience has provided me with a new way of seeing things, of respecting the land, the product, its history, and the people involved in making it possible for food to reach the plate"

Alumnat de 3r GCCG

Four students, Eva Serra, Raquel Aitana, Marc Jiménez, and Enric Barceló, from the third year of the Bachelor's Degree in Culinary & Gastronomic Sciences, have spent a seven-day stay in Granvin, Norway.

With this aim and with the main objective of immersing themselves in a different culinary culture, the students have learned about the customs through various activities in order to offer a gastronomic proposal suitable for the diners at the Hotel Jaunsen. "Eli, the hotel owner, is a tremendously generous person and went out of her way to help the students understand Norwegian customs. They fished the fish they served in the fjord, gathered the herbs we served with an agronomist, visited the slaughterhouse, and Hans, the owner, deboned the beef they served at the events," explains Felipe Celis, who is the professor who accompanied the students during their stay.

"They (the students) have such a freshness and strong energy that is worthy of praise. It was four very intense days and the clients were widely satisfied. The experience has been so positive that one of the students will go to work there in the summer," the professor explained.

How would you describe your cooking experience in Norway?

Eva: For me, this experience has been unique. I believe that cooking in Norway has provided us with an advantage in terms of being able to develop as chefs under different conditions, with different products, and in an outdoor kitchen. The activity is very immersive; in the end, we cooked dishes that we knew firsthand where the ingredients came from, whether we had caught or collected them ourselves or obtained them from the farm. I think Eli has provided us with a unique opportunity to experience real zero-kilometer cooking.

Raquel: Norway is a completely different context from what we are used to here. As for techniques, we were prepared, but their concept of sourcing local products and respect for local produce has impressed me a lot. Going on excursions near the hotel to collect the produce, seeing how they do it, receiving explanations, and using the same product you've caught for the menu has made this experience incredible.

Marc: The activity has exceeded all my expectations. Cooking at Eli's hotel has been incredible; she is a great person and has helped us understand her land and her product. On a personal level, I believe that living this experience has provided me with a new way of seeing things, of respecting the land, the product, its history, and the people involved in making it possible for food to reach the plate. All together has modified my culinary vision.

Enric: Quite special. You realize that finding products that in Catalonia you can find easily can be much more complicated, so we had to adapt. It was very special to learn about a gastronomy that many consider scarce or of lower quality, but it really isn't. I would describe it as a gastronomy that has had to adapt to adverse climatic conditions, but this has caused the few products they have to achieve an exceptional level of quality.

What was the most challenging part of designing the tasting menu with total creative freedom?

Eva: The most challenging part was the fact that we didn't have the certainty that what we were doing would turn out well, but I consider that it was the exciting part of the process.

Marc: The most complicated part of this was obtaining ideas and inspiration to kick-start the project. There were 4 of us involved, all with attitudes and ways of seeing cooking totally different. Making our thoughts fit together like a puzzle was complicated at first.

And the best part of the experience?

Raquel: For me, the change of scenery, the country. Going to a place completely different visually, socially and culturally has made it an unforgettable experience. Going to a slaughterhouse and having the workers explain the process with a demonstration, going fishing in the fjord and using the same fish that we later presented to the fishermen as a dish, and more, being able to share it with people who have the same hobbies as you.

Enric: The kindness of all the people we met, and above all, the welcome we received from Eli, who went out of her way for us. I think we all owe her a lot for giving us the opportunity to live this experience and for the good treatment she had towards us.

How has this experience helped in your training?

Eva: Being part of this experience was a great effort for me, as I couldn't afford to stop working during the course to do an Erasmus. But going there involved an exchange and learning a lot, giving me a new vision of learning. In terms of my training, I think it has provided me with a very broad view of new ways of working and giving even more importance to products and ways of doing things.

Raquel: When you are faced with a situation like this, where you live a week in an environment different from what you are used to and that allows you to develop as a person, it makes you think about many new things. It is a unique experience that if I had another opportunity to live in the future, I would not hesitate.

Marc: The ability to work in a team and adapt to different situations have been aspects that I have been able to develop remarkably. This experience forced me to collaborate with people with diverse skills, learning to value their perspectives and to find common ground to achieve shared objectives. In addition, I have learned to maintain flexibility and to adjust to unexpected changes, freeing myself from rigidity and allowing me to adapt better to the challenges that arise along the way.

Enric: I consider that traveling is always something positive for anyone's education. If you add to that the challenge of having to create two gastronomic menus and being able to enjoy a country like Norway, it's the epitome. Therefore, this experience has allowed me to discover a new country, a new culture, a society, and has made me reflect on who we are and how I believe we should be.