Everyone starting out in the industry, from chefs to back of house staff, needs guidance from those with experience, says Chris Galvin.
Over the past couple of decades just being a good chef hasn't been enough. The pressures of a business have made it essential to also have skills in accounting, human resources, marketing, PR and media (including digital and social), health and safety, food hygiene, chef training, coaching and mentoring. It is mentoring that I would like to focus on here.
For young chefs coming into the industry who see chefs on TV shows every day, it appears very rock 'n' roll. And if they find a good chef and kitchen, work hard and are willing to learn, it is rock 'n' roll.
However, with the 30 June Brexit employment law looming, which practically prevents any new staff coming into the country, we are going to need every single chef coming through the doors. So how do we inspire the next generation and, more importantly, retain them? The answer is to take an interest and create a mentoring plan for every one of them.
This plan should include simple, achievable objectives, job chats, educational support, supplier trips, regular feedback and a conduit whereby the member of staff feels able to discuss their current and future goals freely and with encouragement.
This applies front of house too, and to the roles that don't get the limelight. For me, the skill of the maître d' and the front of house team is very much needed: the maître d' is the ringmaster of the restaurant. With the advent of the celebrity chef, the front of house team became overlooked, but luckily we have some masters who continue to shine a light on this profession. We are now able to see that there are a host of amazing restaurant managers across the country, reinventing themselves and working hard with chefs to bring the experiential dining that today's guests demand.
For me, the skill of the maître d' and the front of house team is very much needed: the maître d' is the ringmaster of the restaurant
There are some things that money can't buy when visiting a restaurant – guest recognition and slick, knowledgeable service are just two. Forget smears, swipes and foams from the kitchen – an attentive restaurant manager who can spot body language, read a situation with the eye of a hawk and act on it is magic.
Chefs and front of house managers need to work together to attract more talent into the industry by giving their time to further education, reaching out to colleges and arranging visits for demonstrations and talks. Front of house can indeed be the same rock 'n' roll profession as chefs: the stage is surely big enough for both.
Chef and restaurateur Chris Galvin is an ambassador for and a member of the Craft Guild of Chefs, which runs a mentoring scheme. For more information, click here.
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