- Kitchen United, a delivery-only kitchen startup, has begun hosting two-day "boot camps" for potential job candidates to improve their culinary skills, Restaurant Business reports.
- The training involved teaching participants basic knife and food prep skills, proper sanitation, kitchen equipment use and food safety tips. The programs also offered workers guidance on resumes and interview techniques and invited them to a job fair for the company.
- Kitchen United said that it plans to expand the boot camps in more U.S. cities as the startup grows. They have so far been hosted in Chicago and Pasadena, California.
News reports and industry players warn of a growing chef shortage, as more restaurants open year on year and culinary school graduates are snatched up by tech firms, hotel groups and catering companies. Traditional restaurants carry a reputation of damaging workplaces culture and crushing hours, and Gen Z workers in particular are looking for opportunities offered by employers to learn and advance their careers. This can include face-to-face check-ins, that are not often available in traditional restaurant kitchens. The younger generation is also wary of the environmental stress and pay levels of working in the industry, according to a recent study.
Upskilling, or offering the prospect of training before employees are even hired, is one tactic employers are using to attract talent in a labor market where adequately qualified candidates are scarce, along with improving workplace culture and offering more employee benefits. Such improvements can also cultivate company loyalty, mitigating chronically high turnover rates that plague the industry. "There's a shortage of labor and a workforce that hasn't been tapped into necessarily," Kitchen United VP of human resources Janey Chu said to Restaurant Business.
Similarly, Taco Bell hosted 600 "Hiring Parties" this summer for potential job candidates, offering walk-in interviews and free food, while McDonald's launched a "Where You Want to Be" program last year to match employees to potential career mentors.
Most smaller restaurant operators, however, likely don't have the scope or resources to devote to such a program. Kitchen United's lack of a storefront and its deep-pocketed investors, such as Google Ventures, which led a $10 million funding round for the company last year, place the startup at an advantage for carrying out ambitious training initiatives.
For restaurateurs who can't afford to take on the costs of training themselves, some have turned to hiring from non-profits that have independently trained workers from underrepresented groups. Community kitchen D.C. Central Kitchen, for example, works with formerly incarcerated individuals. The National Restaurants Association has also created several apprenticeship programs, including a partnership with Chili's for U.S. veterans, to provide vocational training in the restaurant and hospitality industries.