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RIYADH: When Donya Modir was growing up, she harbored an appetite and a curiosity for food. This interest grew until she graduated from the Academy of Culinary Arts in Switzerland and was chosen as one of the ambassadors of the Kingdom’s Ministry of Tourism.
“Cooking was my hobby and I used to cook for my family and repeat the same dish until I perfected it, so when I heard there was a scholarship culinary art, I made the decision to seize the opportunity and go for it,” Modir told Arab News.
Enrolled in the tourism scholarship program, Modir studied at the Le Bouveret Academy campus in Switzerland and graduated with a Swiss higher education degree in two years.
“I was fortunate enough to be chosen for scholarship and appointment to one of the elite culinary institutes in the culinary world.”
It was an intense program. She had a daily 12 hour schedule of intense study in the culinary world – both theoretical and practical – in addition to general hospitality management and other assessments. Despite all the challenges, she managed to be an honors student and was chosen as the Kitchen Open Days Ambassador for two full terms.
But halfway through the pandemic, Switzerland’s lockdown came into effect. While most of the students went home, Modir insisted on staying in the country and seizing the time she had to finish so as not to fall behind in her course of study.
Once Modir completed the academic program, an internship was vital to his development as a graduate.
“For 10 months, I started to apply my knowledge and passion to one of the most established Swiss hospitality companies: The Living Circle.”
The Living Circle is a collection of elite accommodations and restaurants run by dedicated hosts in stunning settings beyond compare.
She has also worked in numerous restaurants, starting with Hotel Alex Lake Zürich, Restaurant The Boat House, Hotel Widder, Restaurant August Boucherie and a two-star Michelin restaurant run by Chef Stefan Heilaman.
“During this time, I was promoted twice. It added so much confidence and made me the person I am today.
Back in the Kingdom, she immediately started working at the Myazū Jeddah restaurant: first as a chef, then as a floor assistant.
“Four months later, I was interviewed by Saudia Airlines Catering Company and given the position of Sous Chef. Such a position in our world is really hard to come by, especially when you are still at such a young age. age,” she said.
She got her job at Saudia at just 22 years old, making her the organization’s youngest deputy chief. Her dazzling efforts were noticed by the Ministry of Tourism, which chose her as a success story under the title of “tourism makers”, making her one of the ministry’s ambassadors.
In this post, Modir advised the younger generation to apply for tourism scholarships, noting that the Kingdom’s tourism sector is witnessing revolutionary improvements.
“I was just a young student from Saudi Arabia with a desire to achieve something in a field with great promise for the future of tourism, and throughout my training and learning I gained real knowledge, more confidence , more responsible and a reliable team member,” said Modir, adding, “That is exactly the purpose of our Kingdom in sending us abroad, (it) is to give us such an education, so that we can be willing to give back to this nation.
She continued, “The Kingdom aims to excel in many aspects by empowering these sectors, including the food and beverage industry. It is now that we have started to present our cultural identity and represent our hospitality through our cuisine and meet global standards.
Modir believes that food has always been – and always will be – a means of capturing a nation’s identity.
“With the Kingdom opening up to tourism, I think it’s mandatory as a culinary student to further develop our food industry. It’s just fascinating how it brings people together.
The Ministry of Tourism’s world’s largest tourism training program is investing SR375 million ($100 million) to train 100,000 young Saudis at 10 major global institutions, preparing for a bright future in tourism.