Where’s the Chef?

January 31, 2022
Paul Rifkin

The current scenario in many venues is that there is a scarcity of suitably qualified chefs. The last two years of uncertainty has seen a mass exodus from the industry, with many never to return.

Another disappointing fact is the small percentage of female head chefs, and subsequently role models for younger female chefs and apprentices, have also gone.

This has come about due to an unchecked training and promotion system (or lack of it) that has perpetuated for decades.

What is the solution?

Basically, a rethink of how a kitchen works. Leaving the head chef with full control is fraught with danger. How so, you ask?

The reality is that they don’t stay that long anymore. There are so many venues bidding for the same pool of chefs that temptation lurks everywhere. You barely settle them in before they inform you about a better offer. Then, boom, they’re gone.

Back to the drawing board again.

The question then pops up: ‘Do we outsource the catering to a contractor or persist?’

As a consultant, I get asked this question more often than ever before. My answer is always the same. Complete a review of the operation and examine what you hope to gain from both.

When I was Executive Chef of a very large club serving 13,000 meals a week, there were many checks and balances to ensure catering was flowing correctly.

Every six months I would have auditors on site for a day or two to review my checks and balances. It left everything turned inside out and revealed what processes and procedures needed tweaking. 

We maintained full HACCP accreditation for the time I was there, totally due to this auditing discipline.

Did I like it? Hell no! It was very uncomfortable but it was what we needed to stay ahead of the competition.

A review of your catering operation can uncover so many unseens and unknowns, usually shielded by the Head Chef and their lack of control systems.

Is your Food Safety Program operating correctly, or is it a smokescreen and mostly ignored?

Is your leadership training producing the desired succession management?

Are your staff suitably motivated to stay, or is the turnover too high?

Despite the never-ending story about COVID going away, only be replaced by another variant or challenge, constantly adjusting has become part of the fabric of the business we’re in. 

Either way, humans love to be sociable and dining out is a favourite pastime that people want to go back to normal.

Now is the time to ensure you have all the boxes ticked to ensure your venue will be ready and able to be hospitable again, as well as handle high volume levels of trade.

I recommend engaging a suitably qualified consultant to review your venue.

My specialty is a 3 Day Audit and uncovers everything. Let me know if I can be of any assistance.

chefpaulrifkin consulting / Club Mentoring and Fine Tuning Specialist

chefpaulrifkin@hotmail.com / www.chefpaulrifkin.com.au


Chef Paul RifKin

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