The pandemic tipped the restaurant industry over the edge. Narrow profit margins, oversupply, and skilled labor shortage made an already challenging industry nearly insurmountable especially for independent operations without economies of scale, bulk purchasing power, favorable lease agreements and location, location, location. What is clear is the near future will require chefs and other foodservice works to rethink employment options.
Here are seven food-related pathways to consider:
1. Food Supply: Jobs in the food supply industry are great for chefs because it allows the chef to leverage their knowledge of various ingredients, seasonal availability, and depth of preparation methods.
2. Trades: Transitioning to trade work could work for former chefs who are custom to working with their hands, working for extended periods of time in industrial manufacturing type of environment. Trade industries have high safety requirements which chefs will easily adapt to because of years working with various types of heat like, fire, steam, convection, and induction.
3. Food Marketing & Public Relations: Chefs typically have experience in marketing and public relations that easily translates into office settings. Chefs develop specials, gather feedback, and modify offerings based on customer preferences. Chefs also frequent the dining room to build report with regulars and often contribute to community projects to build brand awareness.
4. Health & Wellness: If anyone knows how to develop flavor with or without more butter it is a chef. The health and wellness industry if ripe for chef-driven meal planning kits, recipes, and healthy alternatives to fat, dairy, and sugar. Consider companies such as Whole Foods, Wegman, Blue Apron, and food manufactures.
5. Kitchen Design: Commercial kitchen design is one aspect of kitchen design occupations. Chefs should apply their expertise in niche kitchen ergonomics, and consulting to improve production systems for restaurants, quick-casual, and hotels.
6. Teaching: Chef can also transition and use their experience to teach. Teaching can take many forms. One example is virtual cooking classes like Pastry Chef Cody Fitchett. Others can take the formal classroom found in community college programs across the U.S.
7. Food Safety: While it is not sexy, food safety and food inspection careers are plentiful and stable. A chef can influence the food industry by ensuring food safety practices are being followed throughout the supply chain. This includes local farm inspections, mass producers, and even supermarkets.
The most important factor to consider in navigating the new normal is to focus on your strengths and passions. If your passion leads you to an industry that is not a perfect fit or a little outside your experience you may have to take some additional course or gain relevant certifications. Which is well worth the time and effort considering the long-term viability of the industry segments above. For more articles or to schedule a coaching session visit www.duanekbrown.com