The constant pressure placed on chefs isn’t just limited to the realms of the kitchen. Chefs are expected to be highly skilled, trained and innovative cooking professionals, which for a restaurant, bar or hotel can be the heart and soul of the establishment. Good food and reputation are paramount for any successful business in the foodservice industry and the chef is often at the forefront of that. That said, it’s not all about cooking good food, chefs have to deal with a whole host of other issues too, meaning the daily headaches can spiral easily and potentially affect performance and also revenue.
So, what are the top issues that many chefs face in their day to day role?
Jack of all trades:
Being expected to be chef, accountant, manager and chief stock taker (all rolled into one). Being a chef is primarily about creating good food for customers but sometimes chefs are also expected to be expert in several other skills that are usually connected with different professions such as an accountant. Chefs need to be fairly adept with numbers, they need to stick to budgets, account for any spending on stock and ingredients/equipment. They often need to manage other people in their teams too and they need to keep on top of stock and inventory processes. All in all, chefs don’t just cook they dip into a number of other roles too. This can be a challenge if most of your training is linked to knife skills and food preparation.
Managing constant changes to allergens legislation without it impacting or hampering creativity and innovation is also tricky. Allergens management continues to be an ongoing burden for many chefs today, whether that means ensuring that labelling and advice on dishes is accurate or needing to eliminate certain foods from menus. When it comes to allergens present in food, the buck often stops with the chef so they need to be 100% certain of what is in their food. That means dealing with transparent suppliers, keeping allergens information and changes up to date and still retaining an element of creativity and innovation in their menu creation, which is expected by both management and demanding consumers.
Dealing with missed invoices and paperwork is a big issue for chefs too. Chefs usually place orders for food by telephone, which means there is no record of what deliveries are expected. This results in invoices being missed or forgotten about because as a chef you are more often than not, far too busy during prep and service time to deal with paperwork on the delivery day. This delay means the chef has created extra work because those invoices will now need to be manually accounted for. Paper will undoubtedly get mislaid or will crop up later on unexpectedly. Either way, this burden of paperwork and admin can spiral if not controlled early on.
Dealing with food waste is another area of concern for chefs. There are constant reminders of how much waste the hospitality sector contributes every year – food waste is the big one so there is constant pressure on chefs to use up food within expiry dates, reduce wastage and keep dishes new and exciting for consumers.
Staying on budget is another ongoing issue for chefs. There are of course ways to keep on top of food costs and to ensure accurate pricing – estimating the cost of a plate of food is a big no-no. Always deal with the facts costing everything on a plate down to the last sprinkle of parsley. Food is money and money is easily frittered away if you don’t stay ahead of the game.
For all of these reasons and more, technological intervention such as using an online purchase order systems can be a big help, because just as a chef needs access to the best culinary tools to create innovative dishes, the business should also have the right tools and processes in place to minimise these issues so the chef can get on with their day job; food.