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#FairKitchens interviews The Chef Partnership - "Lets make active Partnerships for change"

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

Earlier this month Lisa Riley Brand Manager, Unilever Food Solutions and #Fairkitchens took some time to ask Max Brent about The Chef Partnership, the hospitality industry and what a progressive partnership looks like in todays hospitality landscape. We very much enjoyed participating in the interview, which gave an insight into both the #Fairkitchens movement but also what business like The Chef Partnership are doing to directly help chefs, support restaurants and champion good working practices. There is a lot of work to go before the challenges of the industry are a thing of the past but by working together, coordinating efforts and being open and trusting true development and progress will happen.

Tell us a bit about the concept of ‘The Chef Partnership’ and why you have partnered with #FairKitchens?

Hello and sure! At The Chef Partnership we work with our partners to help them retain and attract the best chefs. We understand the key issues facing chefs and restaurateurs in a modern brigade. We want to inspire new and experienced chefs, by developing personal skills like team working and leadership and by making mental health and wellbeing support a ‘must have’ in the modern kitchen environment. In essence, we want to help our partners ensure British cuisine is well and truly world class and very much ‘back on the map! ‘ after covid and into the future.

We ask our partners to make a monthly investment for each of their chefs and then we work with them to develop their best chefs and take care of their employment life cycle. From bespoke consultancy, needs based analysis, live development sessions, recruitment support, a cooking development school and our 24/7 multilanguage Chef in Distress wellbeing support solutions.

We do this by working with organisations like #Fairkitchens, who do a fantastic job of raising awareness globally of the key issues within the industry and providing tangible solutions. #Fairkitchens perform such a vital role – partnering and working with like-minded organisations for their expertise and then sharing their resources globally so we can help improve the industry from a collective front.

What drives you personally to seek to upgrade the quality of life of employers in this industry?

Honestly - a love of food. That's what started my interest in hospitality and all the things that get the food onto the plate. From there I started speaking to some chef friends & suppliers I knew about the industry. I learnt a lot about the history of the industry and where we are today, that really motivated me to try and create something positive and lasting to help make happy chefs. Because in the end that's what it's all about, with happy and motivated chefs we can work together to help counteract current pressures and inspire the next generation of great chefs to start their cooking career.

What advantage do you see in working in partnership with #FairKitchens?

#FairKitchens represent to me an extremely positive shift in mindset in the industry. The work #FairKitchens are doing to spotlight positive examples in the industry, giving a voice to industry peers to raise awareness and bringing organisations that are trying to achieve the same end goal together is invaluable. It's honestly a great partnership, they use their platform to strive to make the industry a fairer, more inclusive and happier place. We see ourselves as the solution-based offer to the clarion call for change that #Fairkitchens are so excellently championing. We share tools and resources with them as part of a long-term mission to support the hospitality industry in becoming a better place to work.

The Chef Partnership is a solutions-based organization, why did you choose this approach and what makes it different from other hospitality support offerings?

Raising awareness is extremely important but the ambition is for The Chef Partnership to be a practical solution to the issues being raised. What makes us different, aside from the amount of elements we offer is our business model. We are a subscription-based service, meaning that there are no large costs upfront and everything we do is targeted towards retaining and attracting chefs. We want our partners to have access to useful and impactful training; for equivalent cost of a lunch each month chefs can get access to a huge variety of live bespoke courses, multi-language one-to-one wellbeing solutions, recruitment support and other offerings we think will really help make a difference to chefs everywhere.

What top 3 tips can you share to successfully retain staff?

The three big ones based on our research and speaking with partners are:

  • Investing in the human side of your chefs with soft skills development. e.g.: leadership & teamwork

  • Ensuring adequate wellbeing support - and by extension normalising mental ill health in your kitchens

  • Mentoring/coaching inside and outside the kitchen. This is often forgotten but it's so important in empowering your teams and developing your way to success. It also helps extend your network - it's a small world out there!

What do you think makes a person stay with a business?

Feeling valued. The phase “ Talent won the talent war” is common but it is so true for hospitality. If you want to keep your staff it's not just about raising wages which is the trend we see at the minute, but especially in light of covid it's about the full employment package. Are you investing in development? Do you have the progression of your chefs at the front of your mind? What's your approach to stress , long working hours and the challenges with working in a busy kitchen? Do you listen to your chefs?. How do you ensure ‘I'm happy at work’? All of these things have always been important - but now more than ever people are paying attention to what's important to themselves, as people and not just as professionals.

How does The Chef Partnership bring value to #FairKitchens and the other partners that you work with?

We bring value by extending our expertise and providing tangible solutions to the needs being identified by #Fairkitchens. We want to help level up the industry. We are here to provide solutions pure and simple. Awareness is a huge part of that and being straightforward but positive about the opportunities and exciting careers you can find in hospitality. We provide the practical solutions and steps restaurants & contract caterers can follow to motivate, retain & attract chefs.

What can we all do to make hospitality a destination rather than a default career for new recruits?

In the modern kitchen chefs need to be great leaders, team members, mentors and to have a grasp of food related legal requirements. They also need some digital and mathematical skills as well as creating modern menus. By enabling our chefs to tackle these multi tasks with training, knowledge and guidance will ameliorate the pressures on chefs, reduce stress and increase industry attractiveness. One day, when an aspiring young chef tells their friends and family of their cooking aspirations, it will be celebrated and encouraged, and seen for what it is - a great career that needs creativity, flexibility and talent - this is truly how some of our continental colleagues see this and we should be equally proud of our great hospitality heritage.

Where can you find The Chef Partnership?

We love to work in partnership with all kinds of restaurants and chefs. You can find us on our website and on our socials - we'd love to hear from you! We are also very proud to be listed on the #FairKitchens Solutions Providers page.

Thank you Max

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