Tweety u┼╝ytkownika @ChefSite

 

Changing the career of chefs and jobs and " Finding a Chef".

 

Colin the director of Chef Site, shares his thoughts and stresses of the catering industry, and why a few are spoiling it for the rest..

Having worked as an Interim Head Chef I like to feel I have keep abreast of trends and constantly connected to the industry. I developed and specialised in kitchen solutions, whether GP, costs or filling a unique position. Being in touch and it's challenges...nothing beats “a challenge“ as we chef's may say, such challenges for me included filling in for head chefs walking out, holiday cover, short notice or something new. In some cases working into the 100’s of hours in a week,  I've had over 20 years’ experience in searching for the perfect job, with a great boss ! I know there are good boses and companies out there, but there are many who need a little reality. 

I have now continued to maintain my love of the industry by supporting chefs, owners and managers who may need help. But, as a former chef, and also being at the receiving end of what chefs and clients need, I see the very worrying side of some of our industry maybe leading into.

“Find me chef?”  Is a question constantly asked by my clients, combined with the question of “a good local committed one…? shortly followed by the frustrating quote "where's all the good chefs these days” - and I am tending to agree, its increasingly getting harder to find chefs.. more recently it has become an issue that I feel is being ignored at there peril.

A good Chef? First you need to be a Good Boss

But, to be able to answer tentatively to many clients, I may be controversial in my approach to this, but we need to see it from a chef’s career and working perspective!  Firstly we have to ask some open questions: where are all the upcoming career minded chefs ? What do we offer for fulfilling a job post in the hard working conditions of our kitchens of our hotels, restaurants and pubs of this great industry of ours? I'm worried and I'm not alone.

Typical job, typical wage, typical hours.

I have no axe to grind, and with two experiences in hotels of three and four star, with the regular management system, of managers oblivious to what the kitchen does on a daily basis, I don't believe they are not alone in being a typical example as I have to  support permanently understaffed kitchens with chefs working beyond the call of duty with silly hours whilst mangers alike work there daily hours and squabble of whose turn it is to have a weekend off, nights off.. . A typical position of a Chef de Partie in a brigade of 5 in one of these hotels being a typical 100 bedroom hotel serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and regular functions to 350, will be paid around 18k which will include split shifts, and a minimum 60 hour week, with minimum holiday entitlement and taken in “off peak months” and of course to work every weekend and bank holiday, work on family gatherings, work if the kitchen is let down.. as Chefs are ofcourse the ultimate committed team workers . Other examples may include a good gastro pub or restaurant where the average chances are that the sous chef will, in many cases, be working 60 - 80 hours minimum a week, split shifts over five or six days, on a typical £25K salary per annum with a basic holiday entitlement.

Working as a chef.

Working as a chef, is great, you are part of a a elite and privileged team; you know each team member in your working kitchen during your employment very closely, often more so than you do your own partner ! and with having the privilege of working in many of these teams as a head chef, the challenges set and the hard work and determination required forms close bonds. Being in this elite group where you give 100% commitment every day is a humble reward,However, despite the demanding nature of being a chef, this profession has many advantages over a 9-to-5 job. boredem is history as there is always something going on in a working kitchen. You will always be drieven to do better and cook to the best of your abilities each and every time the most memorable freshly prepared meal possible for each of your diners. Good comments from your customers, the buzz that comes with a job well done at the end of the night, the close teamwork, experience, knowledge and skills gained while in a working placement at a hospitality kitchen are all successful ingredients for a satisfying career. Being a chef is one of those vocations that are very few, as it truly encompases the meaning of life-long learning, the possibility for personal advancement and creativity are literally limitless. but, If you dare to calculate the wage in real terms, many chefs are working often over a split shifts so their chances of seeing their family or partner are slim. A chef will typically be leaving for work at 9am with a commute of around half an hour and will return home after 10.30pm. If they are lucky enough to live nearby they will be able to pop home for a couple of hours or maybe do the school run, as we know in this industry of ours, equipment failures, “being pushed to your limit” is a regular occurrence, as very often is the case, their relationships are strained.

Chef Wages - We do it for love.

If we dare to calculate the wage, it would be at best minimal, with a chef de partie wage calculated on average to be of around £5.76 for a good week of 5 eleven hour days, in a hot, energised working kitchen, with at best a couple of breaks in some back yard.

Chefs are incredibly skilled professionals, some skills that are not on the average NVQ timetable,  Chefs are often in highly pressured environments, having a sense of calmness and order is essential, along with commitment and simply cannot afford to have a bad day. A typical chef de partie or sous chef will be expected to run their own section, mentor and train the brigade, order stock, plan menus, look after the operation on the head chef’s days off and perform consistently, executing perfection whilst on their feet all day, in a hot, busy, kitchen.

Chefs - are the ultimate customer focused pleaser.

Here is the biggest secret..Chefs are unexpectedly the ultimate unrecognised customer focused pleasers and have a commitment to be forever being creative with their ingredients and the food produced, its loved and cared for untill it leaves the kitchen, and only trusted with in the expert hands until professionally placed at the table. With their commitment and reputation on the line, chefs simply cannot afford to get it wrong. I feel employers must cherish them. Treat and understand them with a little respect. Work towards a real work life balance. Recognise their contribution to their own success and pay them for every hour they work. I have challenged management to work a week as a chef, to show the real commitment to the trade of ours, it’s easy to be complacent and assume that the kitchen will survive, and like that plague on the wall, the chefs will be always there.. - be it I had no takers to my generous offer !

Encouraging new chefs into hospitality 

The hospitality industry is constantly growing and I believe we have to ensure that chefs entering the industry are embarking on a successful and rewarding career, just like any other demanding profession. A job that foremost offers fantastic rewards in being part of a kitchen team, a team player that respects each other and gives 100% commitment, but the job also offers alongside better shifts, recognition to the hours, two consecutive days off a week and maybe a rewarded and genuine appreciation of the skills and efforts they bring to a business. Chefs are now very much in demand and can get a job anywhere in the world, especially if they feel they are going to be better appreciated and valued.

Every profession knows the importance of having strong role models for career minded junior staff to aspire to. Could I ask what messages does the current industry send out to young people who are keen to enter the profession, when they look further up the career ladder at the sous chef – who’s totally burned out and disillusioned and with just a scattering of older chefs.

Getting new chefs for the jobs.

Government apprenticeships are a great entry in to this industry of ours, but the real percentage of students continuing with a career as full-time chef is very low. Whilst we all realise that the number of Michelin Star restaurants across the whole industry is a very small proportion of the total, it is greatly supported with the growth of the celebrity chef, the high flyer and innovative. This national interest in these Michelin Star level chefs showcases an amazing platform for attracting people into the sector. To have such high-profile celebrities who are genuinely supporting our exciting and vibrant profession should be embraced wholeheartedly into every hospitality establishment.

A chef career is a rewarding one

Career minded chefs should be entering this profession in their masses, confident they will have a rewarding career for life with a caring employer of choice, across every type of the hospitality sector.

We genuinely need to retain our aspiring chefs in our business, develop and nurture them as it's only a matter of time that the negativity of working 60/70 hours in split shifts over a six day week, on an annual salary will have to be a thing of the past. Employers must take the lead to be different, embrace better working methods, pay structures and hours to attract and retain the highly skilled professionals they need. By adopting this simple approach, the more chefs you will retain in your business and in turn will automatically feel valued and appreciated. Catering will never be a normal trade, it will never have normal hours, the stresses will always be present, the relish of challenges and being the best place in the street, the area, the country will always be the same, but chefs need to be supported and appreciated. But being presently presented with the harsh reality is the opposite of that, what incentive do chefs have to stay? What career do we offer… however I have been privileged to sometimes see the adopted attitude with results, retained staff of up to 20 years, well trained, enthusiastic and dynamic staff, one such business owner has a vibrant, busy and lovely seafront restaurant just outside Christchurch, Dorset. To which.. I praise you.

Take control of your Chef Career

Chef Site promotes chefs skills and encourages the development of chefs careers, enhanced with video profiling, chefs are so much more than just a CV. With Chef Site and its many features you can see skills, talent and professionalism in an instant.   

Search for your next career move with Chef Site

job search