Chef and Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or competition judge Andrej Prokes told The Morning Advertiser why being a chef is such a rewarding role.
Why should people look to get into the catering industry as a long-term career?
Our research shows that more than two-thirds (70%) of people working in the hospitality industry are proud they do. Furthermore, 70% feel the hospitality industry offers career progression, and consequently over half (56%) have stayed with the same company for five years plus and more than a quarter (28%) have committed to a company for 10 years or more.
It's essential to the future growth and success of our industry that we continue to encourage more people into it and to highlight the fantastic long-term career opportunities available.
What are the benefits of being a chef?
I can’t think of anything I’d rather do. Being a chef, you get to explore your passion for food, where it comes from and the nutrition and welfare benefits it has. It’s a career with soul.
Food is so central to people’s lives today. It’s not just about satisfying hunger, it’s a big part of how we socialise and engage with people. So many people consider themselves to be foodies now and as a chef you get to experiment with different flavours and bring your customers on an inspiring culinary journey with you.
You also have the opportunity to work all over the world. There is always something new to learn. A new business that you can experience or a cuisine you haven’t tried before. There’s no standing still – every day is an exciting new challenge.
What skills does being a chef bring?
Obviously, a big part of being a chef is culinary expertise and channelling your creativity. Knowing what flavours go together, how to interpret market trends and how to get the most from your ingredients to create standout dishes that keep people coming back for more.
But more than this, there are a lot of business skills that you learn as a chef. As you progress through your career, you will be responsible for managing a team, leading a kitchen day to day, and ultimately running a business. It is up to you to ensure that you are ordering the right amount of food, on time and in budget. You need to understand seasonality, sustainability, nutrition, health and safety and how to deliver excellent customer service.
As a chef, you're not just one thing. You have to master a lot of different skills and be open to exploring new opportunities and ways of doing things.
How can these skills be adapted outside of work?
A lot of the skills you learn as a chef are transferable to your everyday life. Time management, working under pressure, juggling priorities and managing a budget – these are all essential to getting through a weekend with the kids!
Why is there a chef recruitment crisis?
The scale of recruitment needed within the hospitality industry is staggering. Growth in the sector is surging – outstripping all others since the economic crisis – and Brexit is only expected to widen the skills gap, with a shortfall of 60,000 workers a year to plug.
Research by Nestlé Professional shows that 45% of millennials consider a career in hospitality to be a 'stop gap'. And what’s more, almost three-quarters (73%) of managers are concerned the hospitality industry is no longer an attractive career option for millennials.
However, all is far from lost. The data also show that 57% of those who have left the industry would consider returning and 60% of millennials would actually consider a career in the field. This presents a real opportunity for us to tackle the skills crisis with both hands and make a difference.
Registration for the Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or competition is open now and entrants can sign up here. Prizes this year will include a gastronomic trip to Europe.