As more innovative restaurants have started to take over the streets of the UK, the catering industry is experiencing exponential growth year-on-year. The industry is now learning new ways to handle customers, their tastes and attitudes. We are experiencing a rise in great customer service at restaurants that are trying to bring more innovation in their menus as well as their ambience.

About 75% business owners working in this industry have witnessed growth by mid-year. However, as the catering businesses are booming, the demand for chefs is growing too. Will we be able to fulfil this requirement anytime soon?

We talked to Nisbets, suppliers of catering equipment who have helped us understand the recent trends in the industry and how the demand for young chefs will keep increasing over the years.

Has media impacted the young chef’s mind?

Many TV programmes like MasterChef and scores of other shows presenting great new dishes prepared by expert chefs, catering is becoming a lucrative career option. Though this industry has always had a presence in the media, it is now experiencing staggering growth thanks to the rise of digital platforms, especially social media.

However, the media glamorizes the job too. According to a Nisbets survey, more than 68% respondents believed that the media representations of cooking are not accurate representations of a real kitchen or even a real chef’s duties. Not only this, 62.6% respondents have felt that the young generation entering the industry has unrealistic expectations from their jobs. Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsey or the Great British Bake Off are not the real representations of working conditions of a chef. However, it continues to get portrayed in the media. There is a chance that catering is the latest fad among the young.

But all is not wrong with media representation of the industry. About 34% respondents in the survey have felt that media’s representation has helped in generating a positive effect on their young staff. Only 16% respondents believe that it has an outright negative effect. Most agree that the media is helping many people consider a career in catering.

How to join the industry?

The first thing that you must do to enter the catering industry is to attend a college or university that offers such courses to young students. In the UK, 23 instructions are offering courses for catering. The Nisbets survey reveals that more than 26% people believe that getting a college course or degree in catering helps increase their chance of entering the industry.

Both the US and the UK lay great stress on a college degree in a culinary school. In 2015, there were 2,290,000 chefs of which 19.4% were employed as head chefs in various restaurants. It is important to note that 12.4% chefs hold a bachelor’s degree from a culinary school, 16.2% have an associated degree and 28.7% had a high school diploma in catering. In US, 30,000 students graduate from culinary colleges every year and 10% of them go on to become head chefs.

You should also try to find a niche in your local market. For example, your local area may already be awash with wedding caterers, but business meeting catering might not have much competition. Try to think of events where people might congregate, such as at graduation ceremonies, and see if there are any businesses already serving that market. If there aren’t, get a foot in the door quickly! That’s your opportunity to fill that gap in the market.

Will an apprenticeship help?

An apprenticeship can be a great way to enter the industry and gain some necessary experience as well. Just taking a look at the stats tells us that there is a rising demand in apprenticeship in the UK. In 2015/15, 509,400 people started an apprenticeship in England alone. This number was higher by 9,500 than the last year. People under 19 accounted for 26% of these apprentices whereas 30% of the numbered were aged 19-24. There is a huge influx of young people in this industry. Note that 32,000 of these apprentices were working in catering and hospitality sectors.

Apprenticeship provides hands-on training to young chefs and helps them in getting more than just college degree in catering and culinary arts. This also helps them increase their chances of landing a job. 51% respondents of the survey think that they can get great on-job experience during an apprenticeship which can help them stay prepared for the future.

The most important thing that we learn from the survey is that 16% respondents are still facing difficulty in recruiting staff for their catering businesses. 17% of them are using an apprenticeship program to recruit staff as it helps to train young chefs according to their restaurant’s work culture and provide them an employment, if they deem it fit. Hence, whether someone gets a college degree or not, an apprenticeship is a must.


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