How To Start My Chef Career

It is a worrying time for anyone in the food service industry.  This industry has lost more jobs than any other industry during COVID-19.

I’ve spoken to restaurant owners who have closed their doors permanently and its heart breaking.  I’ve spoken to owners who have taken off due to the pandemic, literally their business was going down hill then COVID hit, and they are experiencing an all time high!

I asked my friend Dawn to write her experience as a café owner, which was very inspiring so to reach a bigger audience I gave it to Menu Magazine to publish.  It was just too good not to share!

So what does the future hold for those who have planned a career in a restaurant?

The fact is, 8 billion people still wake up hungry and will eat food.  Many don’t want to cook for themselves which is where you come in!

Its all about perspective.

The opportunity is there, like any other business, its all about supply and demand.  As many establishments close due to the pandemic, you have the same number of people with 1/3 less places to eat.

What if you look at this period as a time for serious change and opportunity?  A fresh start.

Celebrity chefs are artists and reject chains and franchise business for the most part. Although even some Michelin chefs had to rethink their perspectives at this time, Guy Savoy jumped on the ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ train in Paris!

But if you have a passion for cooking delicious food and are not married to the delivery, then franchisees get 30-50% return on their investment.  They also get support from HQ with regards to marketing, advertising, hiring staff and an area that was always a priority but now MUST be visually addressed to all patrons, sanitation and safety.  Maybe worth taking a closer look? 

As I mentioned, if Guy Savoy can adjust his mindset to ‘curb side’ pickup then perhaps its an idea that a fresh new grad can explore?  Delivery and curb side are models that are thriving currently for obvious reasons, but does that need to go away post-pandemic?

I think the path is clear to explore all sorts of models.  A new generation of celebrity chefs and artists who flexed their innovative and creative chops and now offer new approaches.

Research the local community, your potential customers.  This part of the process can not be emphasized enough.  Will they enjoy fresh re-heatable meals?  Meal kits?  Ready meals?  Ask the right questions and listen to their answers, they’ll tell you what they want and vote with their dollars.

Dan Barber is an inspirational chef who leads the Kitchen Farming Project.  Have you ever considered taking a few steps back in the culinary journey?  Who would you seek out as your supplier for meat, dairy, vegetables?  Have you considered growing your own?  Combine farming and cooking and become a hybrid new generation chef?

If there was ever a time to question the way things have been done from the food supply, process to the actual business side of running things, now is the time.

Covid has exposed the way restaurants were running was unsustainable.  The profit margins were simply too low.  Business rates, taxes, immigration policy and rent are all significant factors.

I can’t say this word enough.  Opportunity!

Now is the time to rethink, explore, get deep, think ‘big picture’– change has only ever happened when people come together, work together towards a  common goal.  We are seeing that right now with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.  Groups all over the world–with the same message–are making an impact.

Chefs, food truck drivers, cooks, 100 million dollar restaurant groups can pull together to create the new normal, the new experience of dining out, the new world for food service and hospitality and a new food system. 

This is the 2nd largest industry in Canada and in the US (I’m sure it differs but its first or second around the world) You have a HUGE voice, together we can amplify it.

So, its time to get honest and dig deep.  What do you want?

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