Chef Skills Shortage Conference 2017 Highlights

Chef Skills Shortage Conference 2017 Highlights

by Sarah King

Wow! What a success the Chefs Skills Shortage Conference 2017 was on Monday, 24th April.

The event, held at New Park Manor focussed on the Chef Skills Shortage across the Hospitality industry and invited fellow industry professionals to share their views and experience.

The conference was hosted by Sarah King, Director of Orcinus and had guest speakers including Martin-Christian Kent, Exec. Director of People 1st who delivered industry facts. Andrew Hooper, Director of Orcinus Training who detailed the Apprenticeship Standards and discussed the Levy and Jamie Holmes, Head Chef from New Park Manor who gave his experiences as a chef leader and the successes he's had with apprentices and how he develops his team and keeps them excited and eager to learn.

Sarah King Managing DirectorSarah King opened the event: "It is my mission this year to really shout about the issues that face us and to get us all, as an industry, working closely together to find a solution.

If we do not address this now, we face devastating consequences and a world where food doesn’t evolve and microwave technicians are the Chefs of the future!

The only way we can start to move forward is to really understand where the shortage has evolved from, only then can we move forward with a mission to resolve the devastating effect it is having on our industry.

Today, you are going to hear some incredible and mind blowing facts about the industry, along with ideas and solutions of how, as an industry, we can work together to resolve the issues."

Martin Christian-Kent, People 1stMartin-Christian Kent delivered facsinating industry facts and research on low staff retention rates: "Businesses need to recruit to retain.Those businesses who haven’t and have been stung by recruiting the first they see though desperate measures to recruit, are now thinking differently.  Asking the questions – How am I going to get this person, what is their motivation and what can I offer them?!

We need to offer development opportunities and transparent career progression"

research has shown: "It’s not all about the 4-day working week.  What can be done? Would it be possible to recruit more inexperienced staff to take the work load of the mis-en-plas to support better working hours for the fully trained team members?"

Andrew Hooper - Orcinus TrainingAndrew Hooper, discussed the curriculum reforms which are set to improve the standard of apprenticeship training.

"We now can provide the new apprenticeship standards for all levels of Chefs up to Degree level, these include:

Commis Chef, Chef De Partie, Senior Chef Production Cooking, Senior Chef Culinary Arts."

This highlights different skillsets required for the different areas of the industry.

Head Chef Jamie HolmesJamie Holmes tells of his experience as Head Chef of New Park Manor.

"Over the years since training the skills have been diluted and lost.  I take my apprentices straight back to basics of knife skills and sauces."

"Finding the right chef with the right attitude is difficult.  Every day I will ensure we take time out of the kitchen to have a training session with the team, whether that is going out to the forest to forage or spending time training on butchery or sugar craft.  If I can do this, I find they stay for longer and are more engaged."

"As their mentor it is my job to train them the classical way with modern twists, teaching reasons why we use certain techniques along the way."

"I love apprenticeships and training them up to be fully fledged Chefs."

Skills Shortage Questions and AnswersThe day culminated with a Q&A panel with Matthew Saxton (GM, The Bell at Ramsbury), Lauren McCann (GM, New Park Manor Hotel) and Bruce McFarlane (Professional Cookery Teacher, Wellington Academy) who discussed the challenges and successes they have developing Chef's and their teams.

Bruce was asked: "You are training and developing our next generation of young Chefs and ensuring they are ready for the big wide world of professional kitchens after their level 2. Is there anything you feel we can do to better retain them?"

He actually asked his current students who had some alarming responses, one of which was the act of bullying in the kitchen and lack of respect for them as team members. – This management style has got to stop!

Chef Director Alex Aitken The Jetty RestaurantThere was engagement and interaction from the audience, with Chef Director Alex Aitken (The Jetty, Harbour Hotels) saying "Don't squeeze the love out of hospitality" No matter how a Chef performs in service, make sure you "Give them something positive to take home at the end of the day"

Sarah closed the event saying: "At present, we are facing a generation of skills, which will plateau the industry and will not evolve unless we start to change the way we think and stop blaming the next generation for laziness and start evolving ourselves as manager’s, mentors and leaders."

"Join me on working with the solution, only we can change this though education, adapting to their thinking and listening to what our current Chefs are after."

"There is a lot to do, but it’s not too late and we can work together to change this."

"let’s work together to recruit our 11,000 chefs by 2020! – I believe it can be done! We can only change the industry if we change ourselves."

Help us by going social: @OrcinusRecruit #chefchange

We would also like to give thanks to our sponsors who supported us on the day.

Photography Credit: Burlison Photography

 Naim Audio LtdBurlison PhotographyWenlock SpringsWine UtopiaNew Park Manor