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Culinary Career: A Futurist Look at the Fast Food Industry

They would never. It’s the bain of the food industry. Fast Food. Some depend on it. Most enjoy it. Few will admit it in public. America runs on fast food. What would it look like if formally trained chefs started leading and managing fast food and quick casual restaurants? Let’s face it. It might be some of the only jobs available if the economy continues to implode as a result of the pandemic. Could it be the game-changer? Could it renew or bolster the need for unionization of foodservice labor? Since the pandemic, the fast-food sector has been crushing it. I’m a former chef, so I realize it’s a stretch but does the fast-food industry potentially offer employment stability unfound in other segments of foodservice? Chefs are known for being creative, resilient, and resourceful. The food services industry creates millions of low to mid-wage jobs, which is both good and bad. The good is it gives entry-level employment to lots of people. The bad is these jobs don’t pay a living wage, little benefits, and varied schedules. The foodservice industry is challenged by keeping employees in the industry because most jobs do not lead to upward mobility, primarily because of low pay. Hence the conundrum. High turnover of generally low skilled labor. So, the intersection of formally trained chefs could be a game-changer in a number of ways. Chefs can offer culinary training, team building, and staff development. Chefs know how to build highly efficient teams and grow team members into leaders. The fast-food industry could benefit from their expertise. Employees that know they are capable of doing the job and receive adequate training retain at burger rates than those that don’t. Blending strengths might benefit chefs who naturally will demand higher pay but also offer a culinary repertoire that might help the entire industry evolve in the midst of a supply contraction. Fast food has a geographic footprint to deliver foot and vehicle customer traffic independent restaurants only dream of. What if customers could get a broader range of food options within the established fast food model? What precludes McDonald's and other fast-food restaurants from offering culinary-focused specials? Lack of a chef for one, and/or a broad bench of managers that can execute from scratch production. Chefs bring experience and know-how to make such a move possible. The restaurant industry contraction does not have to result in fewer food options. It could be an opening for the industry's most diametrically opposed forces - Fast Food and Fine Dining. For more articles, coaching and advice visit my website

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