Chefs still cooking

Chefs still cooking

Chefs play one of the most important roles in any hotel. The chef may be responsible for the food, but he or she is often the secret weapon of sales and the go-to face for local PR. Toggling from the kitchen to the dining room, chefs have to be focused both on providing exceptional experiences to guests and dependable profitability to owners. The nostalgia minded recalls when being the chef meant we cooked first, foremost, and always.


Where do we find our inspiration today? Television has become nearly frantic in showcasing anyone in a chef?s jacket, coming up with wackier and wackier formats designed to entertain first, inform second. Tweets barrage those that try to engage, blogs cover the inspirational to the insignificant, and online sites always have a food trend of the moment. The great thing about food is that essentially everyone is an expert, with distinct likes and dislikes unique to each individual.


In the lower level of Marriott?s Bethesda, Maryland, headquarters, our Test Kitchen and Training Kitchen provides us with the ability to bring chefs together for very in depth and focused development sessions, without distraction of meetings or vendor visits (not that those are not important, but?).


There is great power in hands on cooking. Solid execution depends on the proper employment of skills technique, which must be constantly honed and formed so that those techniques can be trained yet again to the line associates charged with performing the daily tasks required to run a successful food operation, whether it be large or small.


Culinary training and information is available from many sources ? online, culinary seminars, educational facilities, product demos, and yes even television. Nothing can replace, however, the power of bringing like-minded chefs together for real hands-on cooking with a curriculum designed around specific and actionable goals designed to best target their specific guests. I liken it to a pilot who loves to fly, but must know everything about the specific plane they are hired to command.


The 10 keys to effective culinary training:


  1. Understand the guests? expectations of their visit
  2. Cooking is a learned skill, but every preparation needs tasting
  3. Consistency is achieved through consistency, focus on it
  4. Acknowledge all trends, apply only those that resonate with the guest
  5. Inspire trainers to train what they know, and learn what they don?t
  6. Basics are not basic, they are foundational
  7. Successful restaurants? are busy. Be busy
  8. Chefs are in the business of selling food, be profitable
  9. Details matter
  10. Remember, we are cooking for people, not covers

Today?s chef does much more than before, as many of the support functions have consolidated off property, requiring a significant amount of in-department effort to realize projected efficiencies. With the pressure of running quality- AND margin-focused operations, the case for better and increased culinary training becomes stronger and more critical. Part of my role at Marriott includes distilling these many influences into a format that can be incorporated into actionable strategies appropriate to our brands.


Virtual training is efficient, but the most effective method of learning to cook? is to cook.