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Roman Trusov
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What prevents the chef?

Some people think that in restaurant business everything goes like clockwork and there is no
difficulties. Rent premises, hire staff and it will be all plain sailing. I can assure you
that restaurant business is one the most difficult types of activity, where
broad experience, connections and knowledge is required. I’d like to discuss in this blog
problems of restaurant business, and particularly what prevents a chief cook
from fulfilling his potential. For a start, we need to understand what kind of restaurant
is successful and what a guest needs when he comes to a restaurant. A good restaurant
is the one where workload is near 100%, but at the same time
a guest going out of this restaurant is 100% pleased by the atmosphere, service,
and cuisine, and in the nearest future he or she will make a call to book a table again.
Guests need good-quality, attentive, tactful and nonintrusive
service. Interior decoration doesn’t have to be expensive and pompous, a guest
needs to feel cosiness and comfort. Cuisine like a drug should make a guest come again.
There can be an unbelievable variety of such factors. But let’s return to sorrowful reality.
To my mind the main problem is in staff. Everything starts from educational institutions.
They don’t provide appropriate level of knowledge that is currently required in
restaurant business. Especially it concerns the institutions that are supposed to give
a good knowledge foundation, but in reality a specialist graduates from it only owning a diploma
and a significantly emptied wallet. Undoubtedly everything depends on the specialist
himself, but yet…! To reveal a great secret I graduated from

Trade Economics Institute, but now unfortunately there is no knowledge left
from that long years of “studying”, or there are some skills that can’t be implied in practice!
Certificates that were even not asked about when getting employed in restaurants.
Another question is wish of a specialist himself. But there is another hidden
rock. And it is salary. Labour of a cook isn't valued, though it is one of the hardest.
In some restaurants cooks have to work 12 or even 14 hours in a turn near a red-hot cooker
often with a broken cooker hood. They have to breathe in deep fat fumes and other
nasty things. And even more, they often have to stand moral pressure and stress from
people of a higher rank. And sometimes they even have no time for a lunch break.
And for all this they get $300-400 in regions, $600-800 in cities. Compare this,
for example, with a marketing manager who works quietly in his office 5 days a week
and has $1000 or even $2000. As a result, when a good cook leaves a restaurant
for a better-paid position, it’s really difficult to find a worthy specialist to replace him.

Financial issue can influence not only staff but working conditions as well.
I’ve seen restaurants with high requirements, but no conditions, where you couldn’t find
a simple silicone mat in the kitchen, not talking about high-quality equipment.
One more serious problem is poorly-developed agricultural sector and
consequently, its poor support of restaurant business. Farm enterprises develop slowly,
so it’s difficult to get good-quality fresh products. And cost is not the last issue.
Tasty and cheap – that’s the recipe for success. For example, it’s rather difficult to get
good meat, many of my colleagues raise this problem as well.

Not infrequently restaurants are purchased for personal advertisement, but not for
gaining financial profit. In such cases we can face absolute misunderstanding of the restaurateur.
It pitiful, but we can observe that people having some personal relationship with restaurant
owners are valued more than specialists who know much about restaurant business.
A good chef is a creative person, so many aspects that influence the whole work process
depend on his mood. I can’t speak for everybody, there are those who are ready to snatch
as much as they can and give nothing in return. But this relates more to personality.
In my blog I want to call both restaurateurs and cooks to respect work and
creativity of their chefs. As for guests, I call them not to forget to say «Thank you»
when they get pleasure from their meals. It cost nothing, but for a specialist it’s a sign of respect!

And finally, here is what my colleagues think of the problems in restaurant business.

Kirill Sinichkin. Vladimir. Chef. International Cook Alliance member.

Lack of professionals on key positions, low quality of Russian products,
As a result, we have to use imported products. Cooks’ salary leaves much to be desired.
The profession is still not in trend!

Maksim Rybakov. Moscow. Bio chef. International Cook Alliance member.

The only obstacle for chefs is their wish and education, better self-education, as I consider
people who self-educate to be more motivated. Salary varies. But to be honest, I think
 it’s quite good! Can’t understand what means bad-paid? If a Russian Chef had at least
one Michelin star, he could focus on something. And now? Though I know some Russian
chefs who earn 60 000 rubles, as well as those who are paid 700 000 rubbles.
The main problem is in products, agriculture in Russian only returns to life.
And the best cuisine can be cooked only from local products that are soaked with our energy.
In regions there’s a bigger problem with staff! The rest is the consequence!
The more developed agriculture is, the better are the products. The better the products are,
the tastier and cheaper is the cuisine. The tastier and the more affordable food in restaurants is,
the more people start to understand and value the taste and quality of what they eat.
When demand grows and food culture at home and in restaurants becomes
better – demand on chefs and cooks grows as well. Lack of staff leads to salary increase, etc.

Aleksandr Schikarev. Krasnodar. Chef-confectioner. International Cook Alliance member.

When an employer offers a job, not realizing what conception will his place have, it leads
only to mutual misunderstanding in the work process, and consequently, to negative
atmosphere. For example, "I want a gastronomic restaurant with designer cuisine», that is
followed by a question: «What is designer cuisine in your understanding?», that’s where it starts...
A lot of chefs are often deprived of creativity, as they are loaded with routine work,
And again it comes to money issue.

Igor Tigranian. Chef. Saint-Petersburg.

The lack of staff, especially in high season. And problems with products suppliers.

Nikolay Feodorov. Chef. Saint-Petersburg.

In our city the culinary industry is well-developed, there are a lot of good places. But to my mind
there is the only problem. The staff that graduated from our educational institutions is
poorly-prepared and not always professional. We have to teach them after studying.

Andrey Ivanov. Chef. Saint-Petersburg.

Decrease in a dish cost is gained by using cheap ingredients.

Tatiana Kilina. Chef. Perm.

We have to face difficulties in menu development, as it must be of good restaurant level with a cost of a canteen... It’s difficult to explain that it’s impossible… So we have to behave like in the song "I sculptured him from what I had..." (translator’s note: a famous Russian song)

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