There are lots of food enthusiasts that desire to work in the culinary field, though perhaps not directly in a restaurant. A chef consultant position could be a fun change of pace if you don't see yourself working as a chef full-time for the rest of your career.
In addition to having a flexible schedule and working on a range of projects, this flexible, exciting employment can allow chefs the ability to stay interested in food and cooking.
You inevitably have questions if you've never heard of a chef consultant, such as...
A Chef Consultant: What Is It?
Chef consultants work transiently with food service companies and food manufacturers to enhance goods or operations, as opposed to working at a particular restaurant or culinary establishment.
Although every job may be different, potential consulting services include:
creating or designing restaurant menus
helping kitchens become more productive or economical by training personnel
product creation for food merchants
Development of a program, such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)
Why hire a consultant to perform these tasks? Consultants can research trends, look for efficiency, and read case studies without having to worry about the day-to-day operations of a restaurant or food processing facility. They can enter a kitchen and provide it with a new pair of eyes and viewpoint into the kitchen to help the team make improvements.
Chef consultants may assist businesses with product development by coming up with new product ideas, developing those items into their ultimate forms, and possibly even assisting with some marketing.
Chris McAdams, a graduate of the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, works as a chef consultant and research chef at Culinary Culture, where he has been involved in a wide range of projects. He describes himself as a "gun for hire" in the restaurant business.
The advantages of working as a chef consultant:
A chef consultant is a problem solver and a somebody who likes to think outside the box. Every day, consultants have the possibility to use their creativity and tackle unusual, difficult problems.
Rarely is a consultant's work monotonous! Each day might be different for them because they often work on a single project with a transient customer. Additionally, this position necessitates staying current with emerging food and product trends.
Another benefit is that the hours are frequently more regular than those in a commercial kitchen. Although there could be occasional late nights if you're attempting to fulfil a client deadline, consultants typically work "office hours."
You get to pick your tasks and establish your own hours if you work as an independent consultant.
This also means you’re responsible for bringing in new business, which may lead to an inconsistent income while you get established.
Getting Started as a Chef Consultant:
Learn About Restaurant Operations and the Culinary Arts
If consultants are going to assist seasoned chefs in developing new items or resolving procedural problems, they should have a solid understanding of the sector. A foundational education in good hygiene, traditional culinary methods, and restaurant management can set the future consultant on the correct course.
Expertise in managing food prices, enhancing inventory processes, and money-saving strategies may also be required of consultants. It's very probable that some of your clients may be asking for assistance with cost-cutting in the competitive culinary sector. Find a cooking school with a business-focused curriculum that includes classes in entrepreneurship, cost analysis, portion sizing, and accounting to get off to a strong start.
Obtain Real-World Experience Performing Restaurant Work
The ideal chef consultant will have prior culinary training. Some of those fundamental abilities may be acquired through a culinary school, but you might also want practical experience to establish yourself as a respected consultant. Your level of assistance will increase as your expertise of the sector grows.
A competent consultant is knowledgeable with the entire restaurant or culinary ecosystem, not simply the back of the house. Develop your talents in the front and back of the house, and use every opportunity to learn about the business side of the company. Before you are sure that you have what it takes to be a valuable consultant, it can take you a few years and a few jobs.
Maintain Developing Your Leadership and Business Skills
As you expand your clientele as a solitary chef consultant, you should keep improving your abilities. It needs particular abilities to be a consultant, which aren't always related to culinary knowledge. For example, effective communication skills are among the most crucial for any leader or businessperson. By its very nature, consulting includes dealing with customers directly. It is essential to be able to communicate effectively and consistently while also making sure that the communication doesn't overwhelm the busy restaurant management.
A customer is likely to assume that a chef consultant they employ to revamp their staff training program or uncover efficiencies in the kitchen workflow would be just as organized, if not more, than they are. Organization is important since disorder and disarray might indicate a lack of it and possibly erode customers' confidence.
Additionally, managing a client load as an independent consultant entails managing all aspects of running your own firm, including marketing, bookkeeping, scheduling, and invoicing, to mention a few. Eventually, you could decide to engage someone else to assist you with this, depending on the scale of your organization.
To attract clients and establish connections, expand your personal and professional network.
Finding clients is a necessary component of becoming a consultant. And you may start by asking around in your network of chefs and other culinary experts.
Students at culinary schools are surrounded by others who share their passion for food, from their classmates to their Chef Instructors. Your culinary network may be built on this, and it may ultimately expand to include employees, employers, and prospective culinary students.