What exactly does it mean to take care of the nuts and bolts? This is a topic we explored at our culinary conference Roots 2017.
Challenges faced in the culinary industry include notoriously low wages, which leads to a dearth of talent pools for restaurants. Executive Chef Zane Holmquist from Stein Erickson Lodge expands upon those challenges, pointing out that the person who cooks a fabulous meal gets paid less than a tattoo artist, a car mechanic, a plumber, an electrician – which just isn’t right. And, besides not being fair, the wage gap naturally leads to declining numbers of people being available in the talent pool.
So, what do we do? Independent restauranteur and chef Pete Blohme (Panini Pete!) says that training and “coaching up” are the ways to reenergize the labor force, giving the restaurant team a sense of pride – and maybe even sparking the passion in someone who is currently involved in repetitive, labor-intensive tasks for low wages. He points out that, as restaurants expand in size and scope, it becomes more difficult to literally take someone under your wing, but it’s crucial to find ways to provide that vital mentoring and training. Who knows? Someone who is currently scrubbing pans may have the makings of an executive chef!
Recognition often helps, perhaps by providing team members with a special coin when they do an outstanding job – or buying them new chef knives or coats.
Finally, Chef Brian Duffy talks retention. If you’re tired of looking at resumes and checking references – or exhausted from simply trying to find enough people to interview – bolstering retention rates is key. Brian recalls when he was new to the culinary world, when kitchen staff were yelled at regularly (and he even remembers salad being thrown at him).
These are clearly NOT ways to retain quality staff. Instead, try turning off your phone for an hour, making sure that everyone knows that the time spent with a particular staff member is so important that you don’t want to be interrupted. After you find someone worth hiring, regularly engage with him or her, and demonstrate a commitment to his or her personal and professional development.
As Brian points out, people don’t quit jobs. They quit people. More specifically, they quit working for people when the benefits of continuing a job no longer outweigh the negatives of leaving that position.
This post only touches upon the high points of this presentation, and you can watch it in its entirety here, including answers given to audience questions:
Stayed tuned for even more coverage of our 2017 culinary conference in this blog! There’s lots more to come. And, it’s not too early to start planning to come to Roots 2018.