A trio of competitors in restaurant services are feeling hopeful about the final day of the EuroSkills 2023 competition despite a set of difficult tasks.
Team UK competitor Daniel Davies told FE Week that the first two days of the competition in Gdansk, Poland started off well but his training programme has been incredibly intense having only truly started in July. The WorldSkills cycle began back in March.
“We didn’t get the training programme up until July so really, I’ve only had about maybe two or three months to actually train,” he said.
“I did have three training sessions and that’s like week-long sessions throughout August, so that was a very tough month,” he said.
Davies’ first day began with the most complex task for participants specialising in restaurant services: fine dining.
“That was arguably the most complex day because of the sheer amount of tasks to do,” he said.
Davies, aged 21, hails from Aberporth in West Wales. He studied at nearby Coleg Ceredigion, and told FE Week that he is competing in EuroSkills 2023 because his catering hospitality lecturer Huw Morgan signed him up for a competition without his knowledge some years ago.
“Funny story actually. My lecturer signed me up to a front of house competition without me knowing and he came up to me about it four weeks beforehand,” he said.
“If I hadn’t done that competition, I wouldn’t be here.”
Dishing up at EuroSkills 2023
Some other competitors in restaurant services had different routes into EuroSkills Gdansk.
French competitor Mathis Foucart was an apprentice when he got involved with WorldSkills.
But the 22-year-old started unofficially in the industry aged 14, where he would wash dishes in a restaurant his brother worked in.
“And at 15, I started serving. I then went to catering school for three years, and after going to high school for two years I was an apprentice, and there I started with WorldSkills,” he told FE Week.
Foucart’s training over the summer was intense. He didn’t have a single day off. And post-EuroSkills Gdansk, he won’t get much downtime.
“I need to come back to the restaurant because it’s so busy,” he said. “It’s a five-star hotel in Provence and it’s so busy the whole year, you don’t have a chill season.”
Foucart will be too old to compete in WorldSkills Lyon 2024, but he said it will be so important for the French team to have local support there, just as the competitors have here at EuroSkills.
Meanwhile, 24-year-old Łukasz Kobyłecki from the Polish delegation has only worked in restaurants for six years, and entered a national competition last year before training for EuroSkills.
“I started to work in restaurants six years ago and last year, I made the first steps to the competition here,” he said.
The competition has already opened doors for Kobyłecki, as he said after EuroSkills he will start a new job as head waiter in another restaurant.
“This competition is like training for me because we are planning to go to WorldSkills next year,” he added.
Those in the restaurant services skill taking part in the three-day intensive event are put on shifts and have to serve in three different settings: fine dining, casual bistro dining, and a specific task module.
The specific tasks entail duties such as serving coffee, pouring prosecco, creating classic cocktails, and carving a pineapple which is then used to make a pineapple flambe.
Ahead of the final day, Kobyłecki said he was really proud of himself during the bistro service.
“The specific task model, it’s much harder than bistro. I hope tomorrow I do my best.”
In the tent where the tasks take place, the public and delegates can sign up to be customers in the makeshift restaurant environment.
The competitors said the setting is better than just having experts judge them.
“For me, it’s better because you can speak with the customer to relax,” said Foucart.
“When you have only the experts to judge, it’s more difficult for me because you have only the eyes of judgement, not the eyes of the customer with their big eyes and big smiles.”