Star Pubs & Bars is launching a series of free chef training courses at regional cookery schools around the country to help licensees with kitchen staff recruitment and retention.
The series of practical one-day courses are aimed at staff in pubs with a strong food offer who may not have been to catering college but want to expand their knowledge and learn cooking skills to progress in their careers.
Course attendees learn to make bread and to create on-trend vegan and gluten-free dishes. They also gain insight into how utilising under-used cuts of meat, low calorie dishes and desserts can increase customer spend.
The learnings are designed to help attendees feel empowered in their role in a commercial kitchen, Star said.
The first course took place at Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s The River Cottage in Devon with further courses lined up around the UK.
Ed O’Neill, licensee at The Crown Inn, Farnham Royal said: “Having worked as a chef in everything from Michelin kitchens and fine-dining through to casual dining, I believe recruiting and retaining chefs is a massive industry problem. It’s nigh on impossible to find fully trained chefs who want a career. That is why the training at the Riverside Cottage that Star arranged was so great.
“To make the most of it, we closed our kitchen for the day as we felt it showed our determination to invest in our chefs’ futures. They loved it and were inspired by the experience. Each recreated one of the dishes, which we put on our menu as Riverside Cottage Specials and they sold out.”
The courses complement Star Pub & Bars’ chef recruitment toolkit, which contains ‘how to’ guides on interviewing and recruiting candidates as well as a suite of professionally written job descriptions, interview questions and job advert templates.
Mark Teed, head of food at Star Pubs & Bars, said: “Training and staff retention was highlighted as the biggest issue for licensees at our 2018 forums. The kitchen crisis is already critical and likely to get worse, so developing and looking after chefs is essential and we’re committed to supporting licensees in this area. As well as cookery school training, we’re sponsoring 100 apprentices this year to help licensees attract and retain the best talent in the kitchen.
“Licensees need to motivate and inspire kitchen staff to minimise staff turnover. Acquiring additional skills and offering apprenticeships allow people to progress within their role and encourages them to stay with their employer longer. Over and above training, it’s important to recognise chefs’ efforts by, for example, putting their names next to dishes on the menu and encouraging them to enter competitions.”