#FairKitchens believes effective leadership is key to creating positive kitchen culture and retaining staff

#FairKitchens, a global movement driving change to secure a healthier and more sustainable foodservice industry, has launched a new leadership training programme, free to any hospitality business employee.

Entitled ‘Leading a Fair Kitchen’, the programme aims to improve working environments and address staff recruitment and retention by empowering leaders with insight and practical tips from others in the industry. The training is presented by Unilever Food Solutions, one of the co-founders of #FairKitchens, in collaboration with The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), which lent its expertise as an industry service.

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More than 30 chefs and experts across the world worked together to create the free, online programme, which combines a series of short videos and actions to complete afterwards. Available for Chefs and Operators with any level of leadership responsibilities, the programme is designed to teach participants how to be effective leaders.

In addition to helping individuals fulfil their leadership responsibilities, #FairKitchens aims to accelerate culture change from the top, and give leaders alternatives to simply mirroring the behaviours of Head Chefs in the kitchens they grew up in. By sharing honest reflections, lessons learned along the way, and practical tips, the training is designed to help leaders create an open, inclusive and fair environment for their teams.

Leading a Fair Kitchen covers seven modules – one introductory module around 4 minutes in length, and six more detailed modules which take between 30-35 minutes to complete.

  • Module 1 (Introduction): What is Leadership 
  • Module 2: Self Awareness and Self-Management
  • Module 3: Communication
  • Module 4: Recruitment and Onboarding
  • Module 5: Building Diverse Talent and Teams
  • Module 6: Wellbeing
  • Module 7: Crisis Management

Each detailed module recommends learning actions for the participants to complete afterwards. Following a short assessment at the end of the modules, participants may earn a Certificate of Completion.

According to Audrey Crone, Executive Chef at Unilever Food Solutions in Ireland, the industry has work together to do to make it a more welcoming environment for new talent. “Professional kitchens can be a tough environment to work. Chefs often primarily focus on culinary skills but to become a truly great chef requires a cool head, clear focus and creativity. And to lead a team, requires a different skillset. Being able to guide and support a team who is under pressure to deliver the best takes time and training.

“Through #FairKitchens, we want to emphasise the importance of leadership and put it front and centre, to help chefs develop a more inclusive and collaborative environment which in turn will allow teams to excel at what they do best – creating outstanding dishes. The online training, which is free, is ideal for chefs who want to upskill or refresh previous leadership training.”

Julianne Forrestal, Executive Chef at Sodexo and #FairKitchens Training Ambassador, believes leadership can take many forms and styles but ultimately, it’s about bringing people together with a shared vision and purpose. “I think that a holistic approach, that nurtures and encourages the development of people, is key to the success of any business. Being able to reflect on one’s practice and continually developing a leadership skillset is key to any senior position held in a kitchen. Our industry is in the midst of a huge challenge with shortages of available talent so it is important that we embrace and develop talent and embolden our leaders with the confidence and knowledge to carve a future that realises the potential of all our team members.”

Commenting on #FairKitchens leadership training, Forrestal said: “The multicultural nature of this leadership training series and the conversational tone appeals to our teams and the fact that you can tap in and out of training modules makes it very user friendly. The takeaway tasks also help to carry the learning away from the screen and this encourages the chefs to focus on their own teams and their practice. There are many aspects within the #FairKitchens modules that are relevant to all stakeholders engaged in the culinary space as ultimately all aspects of the business impact each other”.

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