Located in the main campus of Calgary’s oldest post-secondary educational establishment at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology – or SAIT to its staff, students and alumni – the Highwood Dining Room is often described as one of the best-kept secrets of the city’s dining scene. Food, drink and service here are second to none, which is all the more remarkable when you consider students provide them at the Polytechnic.
Highwood is a ‘live training environment’ for SAIT’s Schools of Professional Cooking, Baking and Pastry Arts, and Hospitality Management, meaning paying restaurant patrons are served and fed by students learning ‘on the job’ through various branches of the polytechnic. Since its inception, SAIT has concentrated on hands-on training intended to equip students with the necessary skills and abilities which employers look for – this extends to their Bar Mixology course, a comprehensive instruction program designed to train prospective bartenders and servers with everything they need to tend bar or serve in anything from gastro pubs to fine dining eateries.
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For $575, prospective bar workers receive seventy-five hours of instruction in both classroom and ‘live environments’ – with the majority of time spent in the latter – by staff such as Alita Brown, herself a SAIT graduate and a seasoned veteran of the hospitality industry with extensive knowledge of food, beverage, hotels and restaurants. Students are taught all they will need about the art of bartending, including bar service, customer relations, wine and wine service, food and wine pairing, and the preparation of cocktails, be they the classics or contemporary favourites. The course lasts for approximately three weeks, running from 3.45 pm to 10 pm Monday to Thursday, with students working alongside pupils from other courses and programs to ensure the Highwood runs smoothly and maintains its reputation for a quality dining experience – the order of the day at the restaurant is affordable yet world-class cuisine and service from students under the expert guidance of renowned chefs and hospitality instructors.
Due to the practical module of the Bar Mixology course, where significant time is spent serving diners in the Highwood Dining Room, students on the program are expected to adhere to the restaurant’s dress code which consists of black pants or skirt, along with a Highwood jacket which is provided by the staff. The emphasis, though, is on enjoyment while learning, and SAIT says the only other things you will need are a waiter-style corkscrew and the capacity for a lot of fun.
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