How quick training sessions get staff up to speed

Making time for training

By 
Katie Fanuko, Associate Editor

chef training

When it comes to shaping the skills of a busy kitchen crew, operators may find themselves working against a time crunch. Seventy-six percent of foodservice directors cited finding time for staff training as their top training challenge in FoodService Director’s 2014 Big Picture Survey.

Yet, some operators have found ways to make the clock work in their favor by bringing an expert into the kitchen for a short skill refresher or by hosting a series of one-hour training rotations.

At the University of California, Santa Barbara, foodservice staff participate in skill-boosting sessions called Skill Blasters, which take place during their regular shift in the kitchen. “We go into a unit or workplace and teach about customer service or sanitation or allergies,” says Jill Horst, director of residential dining services.

“The staff doesn’t have a lot of time to get away from the workplace, and they don’t have the attention span because they’re thinking about their job. Skill Blaster experts come in and give a 15-minute ‘blast’ of information [on the job],” she says.

Conducting three rotational one-hour training sessions to refresh staff members’ skills and bring them up-to-date on new procedures is a method that has helped Mary Anderson, supervisor of the culinary express department at Wayzata Public Schools in Wayzata, Minn., get more bang for her (time) buck.

In the days before classes started in August, Anderson divided 75 staff members into three groups and transitioned them through three one-hour training seminars that covered everything from how to use the district’s updated payroll system to proper knife skills.

“One [session] was Knife Skills 101 +. So we had a chef come down, and the groups rotated through learning additional knife skills as a hands-on type of a breakout session,” she says. “We see many more of the staff members becoming more efficient and getting more comfortable with [handling knives].” 

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