Continuing Professional Development More Important Now Than Ever!

The chefs’ profession has never known a time like this in its history. 2020 has savaged the restaurant industry and with it the chefs who are its lifeblood. Chefs’ Forum writer Chandos Elletson (Publisher of Pure NPD and former editor-at-large of Restaurant Magazine), looks at what the consequences will be in 2021.

Just reading the pleas for signatures to the petition for a hospitality minister is enough to show that those chefs and restaurateurs who are at the top of the profession are fighting to hold back their emotions. The entire hospitality industry is at stake, that much is clear. This has gone beyond the furlough and the delivery scheme. Just doing takeaway and spreading out tables is now not enough. Without a determined effort much of the restaurant world that we know and love could disappear and it may never come back.

Even the much-wanted Hospitality Minister will not be enough. Yes, some much needed financial breaks might become more likely but that will take time. What each and every restaurant needs to do is look very closely at operating costs and changes in consumer behaviour.

Now is the time for boldness and common sense from the industry hierarchy.

Restaurants have been slowly starved of much needed money. But it goes much further than that. When the restrictions end and kitchens get ready to open again there will be much to do beyond just opening the door.

The furlough has kept staff in place and that’s a huge bonus. However, it is not enough. The problems will begin with the cash flow to get up and running again. Many businesses will have to deal with rent arrears. And then there’s the customers are how they are going to react. Will they want the same things that they wanted before?

All these things are imponderable at the moment. The crisis is so severe it is hard to see the wood for the trees, but one thing is for certain: menus and kitchen brigades will have to adapt. With less money costly brigades will have to be slashed and with that will come shorter, easier-to-produce, menus. Any restaurant that is not thinking along these lines is taking a huge risk – especially in the cold light of January and February – and that’s if the sector even opens up again.

There is likely to be less prepared food bought in and more basics produced in-house and that raises an important point: chefs’ skills will be at a premium. And this, for me, is where a Minister for Hospitality really earns their position and can offer something really useful.

What the hospitality industry needs, and fast, is a budget for re-skilling. Chefs education is more important than ever.

Mature chefs need an opportunity to learn new skills such as business, butchery, fishmongery, bakery, cheese-making and patisserie. But beyond that they need to start learning food science. The science side of food is growing at a very fast pace and what is happening in retail with plant-based alternatives will soon be hitting restaurants and more and more customers want those same alternatives to be on menus.

All these areas need to be addressed at an education level and money for colleges and time for chefs to study and retrain will enable the restaurant industry to return in a stronger position and make much-needed changes that will reflect the needs of the modern diner.

So, not only is it important to sign the petition for a Minister for Hospitality it is also important that an agenda for what that person will do be formulated as well. Time is of the essence.

Chefs’ Forum Education Consultant, Neil Rippington is currently running a series of CPD events throughout 2021 for Hospitality teaching professionals, he said

“The industry is vitally important to the success and standing of the nation on a global stage. We need a voice not only to represent the industry but to protect an aspect of life that we all rely on and perhaps have taken for granted in the past. Support from a minister would demonstrate the seriousness in which the government views the situation and provide a renewed confidence for the industry’s current workforce and those considering a future career in a fantastic and creative sector.

“As an educator, chef and someone who has advised government previously, I feel it is essential to continue to develop collaboration between education and industry. In my role as Education Consultant for The Chefs’ Forum, alongside the work we are doing to promote continuing professional development during a difficult time, I would relish the opportunity to have a seat at the table and assist in whatever way I can.”

This is the impressive line-up for the conference taking place across four days next month:

Day One

14th January 2021 Session Title Delivered by Time
A Sugar Masterclass – The Art of Working with Sugar. Jamie Houghton, Le Manoir aux quat’saisons. Winner – UK Pastry Open 2017 (Member of the Coupe de Monde UK Team). 14:30 – 15:30
Business Studies for Culinary Students. Neil Rippington / Chris Galvin /
Philli Armitage-Mattin.
15:30 – 16:30
Front of House Masterclass. Peter Avis. 16:30 – 17:30

Day Two

15th January 2021 Session Title Delivered by Time
An Ethical and Sustainable Future from The Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Chef of the Year 2019/20. Deri Reed –
The Ethical Chef.
14:30 – 15:30
Blended Learning – ‘The New Normal’. Sharing Best Practice. Neil Rippington. 15:30 – 16:30
Patisserie / Chocolate Masterclass. Biju Joshwa. 16:30 – 17:30

Day Three

21st January 2021 Session Title Delivered by Time
Nutcellars – Macadamia Nuts. Andrew Emmott. 14:30 – 15:30
Integrating Maths and English into The Catering Curriculum. Neil Rippington. 15:30 – 16:30
Bermondsey Street Bees – An introduction to working with this award-winning, artisan honey and tasting masterclass. Sarah Wyndham Lewis,
Honey Sommelier.
16:30 – 17:30

Day Four

22nd January 2021 Session Title Delivered by Time
Koppert Cress
A session exploring the unique flavour profiles of cresses and leaves and their use in innovative recipes.
Paul Da Costa Greaves. 14:30 – 15:30
Practical Curriculum Development –  Chefs from industry and education working together. Hayden Groves /
Neil Rippington.
15:30 – 16:30
Game Masterclass – Venison butchery and talk on responsible sourcing. Curtis Pitts
(Curtis Pitts Deer Services)
and Annette Woolcock
(Taste of Game).
16:30 – 17:30

All UK hospitality teaching professionals are welcome to join the CPD Conference and can secure their place by clicking HERE.