Up-skilling back of house in readiness for Brexit

Easy-to-use kitchen technology can help restaurants equip their staff with the skills they need to tackle the year ahead. Here, in Ashley Sheppard’s Guest Technology Editor column for Restaurant Magazine, he explains why. 

“Following the EU Referendum result last June, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) developed a consultative document addressing the key issues for the industry ahead of Britain’s departure from the European Union.

According to the report, the hospitality and tourism industry employs 4.5 million people across more than 180,000 businesses, making it the fourth largest employment sector in the country – representing 10% of GDP, equivalent to £143 billion.  Of that 4.5 million, it is estimated that 700,000 of those workers are from the European Union, with London having the highest proportion at around 35-40% of the workforce.

What really resonated with me is that our industry is a people industry with successful careers based upon merit, aptitude and attitude, rather than academic qualifications. According to the BHA, 80% of leaders within hospitality achieved their executive, franchisee/ownership, chef and management positions by working their way up. Yet, the industry has a well-documented skills shortage, particularly for managers and chefs.

The chef shortage is well documented – so how can technology help to upskill and train across back-of-house, so that teams consistently deliver in line with an operators brand values? Firstly, operators need to be focused on retention – making it easier for chefs to work in a less pressurised environment, whilst at the same time, giving them the tools to do their job well.

An easy to use, simple solution has the power to transform efficiencies and skills in the kitchen. As a consumer, I eat with my eyes and therefore the presentation of a dish is absolutely crucial to my dining experience. For an operator, the presentation of a dish should be integral to their offering.

Today, with the use of technology, it is possible for chefs to call upon easy to use training and software recipe solutions to provide valuable assistance on menu presentation, which results in back-of-house feeling more confident when preparing dishes. The intuitive, graphical information is available on screens, making it simple for chefs to create, maintain and present recipe information when, where and how it is needed.

To give you an example, a menu features a lamb curry dish. The technology will provide a section of images displaying the final plated dish. The preparation section lists each step in the creation of that dish. Additional tabs will also display ingredients, together with nutritional and allergen information.

Importantly, for an operator, the software will improve accuracy and consistency of dishes with minimal training effort required – especially crucial when introducing new products and staff to a busy kitchen. In addition, operators can take advantage of increased speed of delivery and significant cost savings by eliminating the need for printing and shipping of recipe cards, workbooks or DVD’s which in turn will elevate the dining experience for customers to drive continued satisfaction.

We’re a people industry of 4.5 million. Technology was created for people, and if we can use it to upskill and train, we’ll be in a stronger position to deal with the uncertainties Brexit will inevitably throw our way.”

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