Advertorial: The Challenges of being a chef today

The  Staff Canteen

It’s fair to say that being a chef nowadays comes with a whole new set of challenges…On the one hand, chefs must juggle business and commercial decisions in terms of creating dishes and building menus, and on the other, they must ensure that talent, and standards, are being maintained. 

Andrej Prokes, Chef Consultant for CHEF® from Nestlé Professional® and former Executive Sous Chef at The Ritz London and The Fat Duck in Bray, discusses the changing face of cheffing and reflects that with lots of passion, drive and determination, the opportunities for talented chefs are there for the taking…

Andrej Prokes, photo by

Jodi Hinds

“One of the biggest challenges for restaurateurs today has to be the fact that kitchens are operating with far fewer chefs.  As a result, it has become much more generally accepted to use finished products.  It started with ready-made puff pastry and has grown from there.  Stocks and jus, for example, which offer chefs both consistency and cost control, are gaining in acceptance.  It’s about making life easier for chefs, and giving them time back to be creative. 

“At the end of the day, this represents a fundamental shift in our Industry and the way we operate.  As chefs, not only do we now have the opportunity to create better dishes, but it makes business sense too.  I know from my work with CHEF® that there is a lot of respect out there for these kind of products.

Putting talent first

“The wider challenge of attracting more talent to the Hospitality sector continues to put pressure on kitchens across the country.  There can be no denying that this Industry can be a tough environment for chefs.  Alongside growing diner expectations and ever changing trends, belts are being tightened and many chefs are faced with staff cutbacks and shrinking teams.   Professional kitchens can be hard places to work and the skills shortage we are now facing is all too real.  ‘Do you know any good chefs?’ is a question I am often asked by Restaurateurs.  We simply don’t have enough talent out there.

“We need to work hard to address this - to change ‘old school’ kitchen cultures, to recruit the best talent and to show the youngsters coming up through the ranks what amazing opportunities there are out there.”

“There is hope on the horizon though.  At this year’s Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or® competition, the next generation of chef talent was truly inspiring.  For 28 years, Toque has helped to launch the careers of thousands of chefs, including some of the Industry’s biggest names, and in light of the talent crisis, this year’s competition was more poignant than ever.   These are youngsters who are striving to master the art of cheffing and who clearly want to carve out their future careers in Hospitality.  For young chefs and managers coming up through the ranks with drive and determination, the opportunities are there for the taking.

Chefs with passion

CHEF® Chicken,

Shellfish and Veal varieties

“Whilst this Industry offers amazing opportunities, the hard truth is that you can’t go from kitchen porter to successful and recognized chef in the blink of an eye. A lot of young chefs come fresh from university with ambitions to be business owners or head chefs in the space of five years.  It’s too short a time.  You need dedication and a willingness to master the basics first and learn from the masters before you can unleash your own creativity.

“For the chefs out there who want to carve out a name for themselves, my advice would be to believe in what you do, never hesitate to step out of your comfort zone, and to let your creativity and passion for food shine through. 

“If you’re a Restaurateur or business owner, don’t spend all day in the kitchen – get out there, listen to your customers, look at their experience and needs as a whole and see what others are doing.

“At the end of the day, the Industry is changing, and as chefs, we must change with it.”

Andrej Prokes is a Chef Consultant for CHEF ® by Nestlé Professional® 0800 745 845

Cover photo: Andrej Prokes, Chef Consultant at Nestlé Professional® and Guinea Fowl prepared with CHEF ® All Natural Stocks by Andrej Prokes, photography by Jodi Hinds.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th June 2016

Advertorial: The Challenges of being a chef today