From Chicago to Killiecrankie, Maura is on a mission for the CIA

Maura Hopkinson from Chicago

Highland Perthshire’s award-winning restaurant with rooms, Killiecrankie House, is playing host to its first ever externship student, who has come all the way from the Culinary Institute of America for a 14-week work placement.

Maura Hopkinson from Chicago, who is specialising in pastry cookery at the world-renowned CIA, will work with the Killiecrankie team for the duration of her spring semester, after which she will return to the USA to complete her studies.

The college offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees and has nearly 55,000 alumni working in every corner of the globe. Notable CIA alumni include the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Cat Cora, Grant Achatz, Christine Langelier and Jérôme Bocuse.

During their externship students complete a full semester of work at one CIA-approved location, which provides the students in their care with structured supervised experiences.

Whether those experiences are culinary or baking and pastry, the idea is for the host kitchen to provide a real-world, on-the-job learning experience and further development for these future industry leaders.

Killiecrankie’s co-owner Tom Tsappis said: ‘’As a hospitality business keen to develop ourselves and those around us we took a proactive decision to get in touch with the Culinary Institute of America about six months ago.

“Ever since we’ve been slowly developing the relationship with the ultimate aim of being able to host students as part of their learning and development journey. Despite being a comparatively small restaurant with rooms there’s lots of opportunities for students to get hands on.

“Killiecrankie is somewhere they can really get a totally rounded view of what it means to be in a busy, creative and vibrant environment taking in aspects of a kitchen outside their specific specialisms,” said Tsappis. “We were assessed late last year and happily the CIA felt that we met their stringent host venue criteria and as a result we are now hosting our first extern from the Institute.’’

Maura herself commented: “The care and dedication from Tom and Matilda to the restaurant goes beyond just the guest experience.”

While Killiecrankie House has plans to bring other CIA externs over later in the year, it is also hoping to be able to offer similar opportunities to students closer to home, with students studying hospitality operations, hospitality management and professional cookery at UHI Perth.

Tom added: ‘’We’ve recently reached out to UHI Perth and hope to be able to have discussions with them in the coming months, with a view to looking at the possibility of offering local students a similar opportunity.

“We’re looking forward to meeting with the college’s tutors in the near future to discuss the possibilities of working together and looking at opportunities of playing a part in developing homegrown culinary talent.’’