Seeking culinary talent

More culinary school grads entering workforce, operators say.

Most operators (63%) believe that there are more culinary school graduates seeking employment in non-commercial foodservice than there were five years ago. The highest percentage of operators who feel this way (78%) is in B&I.

“I think the B&I field is very desirable, as the hours are typically more controllable than, say, school foodservice,” says Christine Rankin, corporate services manager for Hallmark Cards Inc., Kansas City, Mo. “We currently have seven employees who are culinary school graduates.”

When it comes to attracting culinary talent, only half (51%) of operators think that the non-commercial industry is doing enough marketing and promotion. Rich Neuman, director of dining services at Ohio University, in Athens, believes that organizations such as NACUFS “have really stepped [up] their communications to culinary school graduates that there are opportunities in non-commercial foodservice.” He believes that attracting culinary grads is particularly important for colleges.

“The creativity and the whole restaurant appeal and feel that these graduates can bring is what our students want,” says Neuman. “They’ve grown up eating in restaurants; that’s what they expect.”

Of all the markets, respondents in schools are significantly more likely than those in the other sectors to say they are not seeing an increase in culinary school grads in their segment, with 42% believing that to be the case. But Dawn Fronius, food service director for the Freedom Area (Pa.) School District, says schools should be making more of an effort to attract such talent.

“They can bring some new, fresh ideas, which include today’s style of production,” says Fronius, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. However, she notes that schools is not a market in which all culinary grads feel comfortable, despite such attractions as reasonable working hours and better benefits.

“The only drawback is that, with most of these graduates, they do not understand that nonprofits operate on such tight budgets, which sometimes stifles creativity,” she says.

Fast Facts

  • 63% of operators agree that there are more culinary graduate entering the non-commercial industry than five years ago.
  • 50% of operators agree that having a diverse workforce makes it more difficult to train staff.
  • 61% of operators believe that turnover is lower now than it was five years ago.