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Mrs. Juliana Azumah Mensah, Minister of Tourism, on Saturday urged cooks and food providers to be innovative and undertake research into customer expectation in order to come out with interesting and tasty menus.

"There is the need to rediscover our old famous recipes, shape them to 21st Century tastes and more importantly prepare it using local ingredients" She said.

Mrs. Mensah made the call in a speech read on her behalf by Mr. Joe Adomako, Director of Finance and Administration, at the Ministry, at the 22nd graduation ceremony for 127 students of the EKGS Culinary Institute, who went through a 6-month training in cake making and decorating with sugar art, cookery, pastry, balloon, ribbon and floral arts.

The 22nd graduation ceremony was on the theme: "Harnessing our human resource for national development-the role of the culinary industry."

Mrs. Mensah noted that culinary tourism, which is one of the latest in the line of innovative ideas in the sector, is valued by tourism professionals as one of the most popular niches in the world's tourism industry today.

"Research has shown that every traveler eats when he or she is away from home and even at his or her normal place of residence, one can have the desire to eat and sample dishes other than the person's own food can become the central attraction for tourists who seek exotic foods and we in Ghana should exploit that opportunity, "She said.

Mrs. Mensah said the use of local ingredients would help in promoting the sale of farm produce and encourage local farmers to work harder to produce more for local consumption and export.

She said Ghana could come out of the increasing unemployment problem if serious attention was given to vocational training for the youth.

Mrs., Mensah said: "Vocational training is essential for national development because it is an area where the youth can create jobs for them or be employed by others which would lead to the reduction of crime and other social vices" She added.

She advised culinary service providers to work under hygienic conditions and prepare nutritious and balanced diets for their customers.

Mrs. Efua Goode-Arthur, Director of EKGS Culinary Institute, asked government, entrepreneurs and corporate organizations to fashion out sound policies that would give graduates of basic and secondary schools, a sustainable source of employment.

"The culinary industry offers one of the most appropriate vehicles by which we can endow our youth with the skills they need to empower them for the job market and for them to be self employed" She said.

Mrs. Goode-Arthur appealed to government to provide credit facilities at affordable interest rates for practitioners in the industry since most of the financial institutions felt reluctant in dealing with small and medium enterprises.

She said the Institute was putting in place assistance programmes for deserving students who wish to become self-employed culinary professionals.

Mr. Ransford Tetteh, President of the Ghana Journalists Association, advised the graduates to put their skills to good use and contribute their quota towards the country's socio-economic development.

All the grandaunts received certificates but the award winning students were Jennifer Teiko Martey, Best in Cookery Arts, Angelina Kumi, Pastry Arts, Ama Obeng Achiaa, Balloon, Ribbon and Floral Arts, Veronica Asmah, Excellent Leadership, Ernestina Ashong, Sugar Arts whiles Mavis Aggrey won the overall Best Student Award.

EKGS Culinary Institute was established in 1991, as EKGS ENTERPRISE, a confectionery, providing food service to its extensive clientele.

EKGS was expanded and transformed into an institute in March, 1998, as a training centre providing training programs in culinary arts and has so far trained 1,230 students.
Source: GNA

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