Slide 1
“Show me the concept”
International Competition
February 13 & 14, 2023
Invitez, The Hague Hospitality Experience Centre, The Netherlands
AC 2023
Slide 1
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Alfonso Benvenuto

Alfonso Benvenuto clearly misses nothing; he is everywhere, and scarcely needs to speak to make his wishes known. He was elected AEHT President a few weeks previously in Copenhagen, he is president of the Italian association of hotel and tourism schools, and director of the IPSSARCT A.Panzini. He was determined that this 12th edition of Christmas in Europe, on his own territory in Senigallia, would be an outstanding success.

So you’ve won your bet?

Broad smile. ‘Yes. I think that all the participants are happy to be in Senigallia. And I think that everything has gone off well. You know, this has been a great moment in the history of our school. All the teachers took part in their own specialist areas, and the work was simply transformed into intense periods of teaching and learning. There was no problem at all in the organisation. Each group reported to one person in charge.
It was a real pleasure for us to be able to share this Christmas in Europe with all these young people from all over Europe. Everybody really took part to the full. I noticed this at all the important gatherings – at the high mass, at the European buffet, and again last night at the gala evening. It was fantastic.

And yet there were a large number of delegations this time, weren’t there?

Yes, that is true. We wanted to have more foreign delegations in order to encourage even more these meetings between the young people of Europe. Christmas is a cause for celebration, so we wanted to hold a large celebration, and I hope that this 2003 edition will be remembered for a long time by those who participated in it.
Once again the AEHT, through the IPSSARCT A.Panzini, has enabled young people from 16 countries to mingle, to meet, and to show each other their traditions. It is from this mixture that the European tradition will emerge.
There is now a very large membership, 360 schools, and the AEHT should organise a number of such meetings, creating opportunities for young people to meet more often and so communicate more freely. I hope that the members of the Managing Committee who were here in Senigallia will adopt this idea and work towards this goal!

Christiane Keller – Mrs Christmas

As founder of Christmas in Europe, what do you think about the Senigallia edition?

The notion of hospitality was obvious throughout, and Mr Benvenuto and his team were able to pass on this state of mind to their omnipresent students at every level of the event.
With their smile and their infectious ‘joie de vivre’, the students had taken up position in all the places where the delegations were: in the breakfast room in the Excelsior, at the Panzini school for the production and service of the meals, in the rooms and the reception area of the exhibition hall, in the town’s streets to watch the parade go by, the rooms where the meals were served ( at ‘Miu miu’, in the dining room of the ‘Finis Africae’ hotel, in the ‘Pomodoro’ pizzeria, at the European buffet to offer a ‘Senigallia’ meal), but also in areas outside the school itself (forming a school choir for the event, forming an orchestra bringing together musicians from among the teachers and singers from among the students for the gala dinner for example).
Christmas in Europe is above all a meeting between the students from the organising school and students from the delegations; it is a statement to the public that the organising school is firmly committed to European integration.

This year, how well did the delegations implement the underlying concept of Christmas?

All in all, everyone understands that it is possible to have a meeting in which each participant emphasises his or her differences (in culture, cookery or dress). All you have to do is to invent linguistic bridges. One delegation may be closer to the subject in its cultural programme, another will be particularly outstanding in its costumes or in its musical entertainment. The exhibition was of particularly high quality because of the strong presence of Eastern European countries, where Christmas traditions are still strong. But this is a concept in which there is no place for improvisation. In order to do things properly, a school which makes an application to participate and wants to send a delegation should bring together beforehand a willing and motivated team prepared to follow the AEHT’s guidelines for the event. The participants (both students and teachers) really have to hold a serious meeting at least a month before they set off, in order to put the finishing touches to their common programme, which should include:
- reading together the guidelines of the event (to be found on the internet)
- defining their ‘mission’, that is to say:
1) choosing the dishes for the European buffet ( 2 dishes per school, which should not require elaborate preparation nor ingredients which would need to be provided by the organising school)
2) choosing the articles to be taken to the exhibition: these should preferably be authentic items belonging to as old a tradition as possible – for example, one should avoid Christmas tree globes which can be bought in any supermarket in any country;
3) designating one person to wear a costume (according to the country concerned, this could be the costume of a character connected with Christmas, or with traditional folklore,) and designating one person to provide a simple entertainment (singing, poetry recital, musical instrument);
4) practical preparation of the event (printing documents, preparing luggage, etc). Everything should be kept simple, but must be THE RESULT OF PREPARATORY RESEARCH.

In your view, which school had obviously most thoroughly researched the presentation of their programme?

We should commend the efforts of a school such as that of Split (especially since it was the first time that a Croatian school had participated in Christmas in Europe). In the buffet, during the parade and at the exhibition the Split delegation was true to the concept while keeping their contribution simple and traditional – though this did not prevent them for providing a page of information about their region during the cultural programme.

I noticed that occasionally you appeared annoyed – what was the problem?

I noticed that some student guests had the discourtesy to talk among themselves during the official speeches at the gala dinner. It is perhaps a small detail, but something I cannot tolerate.

On the other hand I often noticed how much you were moved and pleased. What pleased you the most?

Oh how true! The things which pleased me amply compensated for my annoyance. For example, what pleased me was:
- to hear students offering to act as interpreters for hours between other students who could not manage to communicate;
- to hear about letters written by students to their teachers asking for more language classes in their various schools;
- to feel the joy of the organisers who had succeeded in sharing their school, their town and their country during an event in which they deeply believed; they communicated supremely well their joy at being together and their pride in our profession which is based on hospitality. I am sure that many of the participants will still have one foot near to the Rocca Roveresca fortress on the Piazza del Duca in Senigallia even when they have returned home for their own Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve 2003.

Grigoris Chrisolegos

Aged 24, Grigoris Chrisolegos, whose name means ‘golden smile’, is certainly very aptly named. His smile is as flashing as it is spontaneous. He comes from Thessalonica and is studying management at the Heraklion hotel school in Crete. Fantastic and wonderful are the words he prefers to use to describe his feelings throughout this Christmas in Europe. ‘I like contact with people’ he says, ‘and here it is fantastic. It is the first time I have been in an environment like this, and I like it enormously …

Guillaume Desalle ,

The life and soul of the party, his voice hoarse from too much merrymaking, Guillaume Desalle, 18 years old, in his final year of food preparation and service at the Rance hotel school in Belgium, is just as enthusiastic. For him, too, it is the first time he has experienced Christmas in Europe. ‘I think that it is an excellent experience in terms of human relationships, and it gives you the opportunity of making friends from all over Europe. It is unique, and it would be great if everyone could have an experience such as this. This is a real plus for Europe and for the AEHT.’

Jérôme Blériot

Jérôme Blériot is 18 years old, in the second year of his BEP course training as a cook at the Masrseille apprentice training centre. He cannot hide his Marseille origins, even if he is in some respects reserved. As we went down to the Frasassi Caves, he agreed that he was ‘very pleased with this trip. I didn’t think it could be so grandiose – especially on the day of the official opening. And I am discovering a lot of things about other people. This mingling of young people from everywhere – it’s amazing. There is a young Bulgarian in my room, and even if conversation is a little difficult, it is an enriching experience.’

Kristin Ploug

She is already at work, and is following day-release training at the Copenhagen hotel school. She is aged 22 years and is already fairly experienced, and has a confident manner. She has mostly organised the European buffet: ‘It is my job, and generally speaking I find the people here really friendly’.

Camila Galsgaard,

She is aged 21 years, and is in the same class, following the same training course as her friend Kristin Ploug. But her judgement is expressed more precisely. ‘The first two days the atmosphere was not too warm, but now people are speaking to each other and recognise each other. I find the atmosphere friendly and it is interesting to see the differences between the countries. For example you can see this during the cultural programme. The Northern countries put on a programme which was less conventional than the others. You could also see it during the European buffet. Italian food really has lots of flavours. I had a lot of preconceived ideas on the way here, but it is really interesting to discover all these things. And then the differences between the young people are enormous. Especially in the age differences and in the various degrees of maturity.’
3rd to 5th December 2018 in Riga
3rd to 5th December 2017 in Fátima
5th to 7th December 2018 in San Benedetto
2nd to 5th December 2015 in Diekirch

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