What is our purpose? As culinary educators and culinary education institutions, we should connect with the real needs in the industry that we are part of. What are we truly doing to identify the needs and design programs and services to address them?
I recently interviewed Chef Steve Schimoler for a CAFÉ Talks Podcast. Steve is one of the most creative thinkers I know and a person with his thumb on the pulse of the foodservice industry. Like other talented visionaries, he has the uncanny ability to see opportunities and needs long before others step up to the plate and take a swing.
During our conversation, we dove into reflections on the growing concern among restaurateurs over the labor shortage. Steve and I talked about our own experiences in the industry, not too long ago, when a significant portion of our staff was immigrant workers with a real desire to find a job in restaurant kitchens and contribute in any way they could.
Steve has a simple yet brilliant idea on how to address the staff shortage issue. “With the significant influx of immigrants crossing our borders and the challenges we face regarding how to effectively handle this, why not create a quick and effective method of training them (less than 30 days) to fill those empty slots in our kitchens? Why not build a program to not only train them but also help them with their pathway to a green card? Rather than scratch our heads or complain, why not be part of a solution?”
Here is an opportunity to identify underserved audiences, fill our classrooms with willing students, provide a quick connection to a job, and help an industry in dire need of a solution. Look around, listen, interact with those in the food business and find new ways of providing training and other educational products that can make a difference.
What are the needs in baking, catering, entrepreneurship, restaurant, manufacturing, sales, and even distribution? Assuming what we offered in the past is adequate in today’s marketplace is no longer a viable approach. Degrees, certificates, certifications, quick training and re-training programs, entrepreneurial skills, how to create a business plan, etc. may be the best way to build your portfolio of services in a changing environment. This is our purpose.
There has never been a more important time to become actively involved in organizations like the National Restaurant Association, American Culinary Federation, Retail Baker’s Association, your local Chamber of Commerce, CAFÉ, or your state Restaurant Association. Listen, learn, participate and find new ways to help through education.
PLAN BETTER – TRAIN HARDER