Bottom line of the profession: “One should enjoy cooking and be interested in the trade”
An interview with Prof Dr Kurt Jeschke, initiator of the new dual studies Culinary Management programme at IUBH University of Applied Sciences, about the increasing demand of qualified professionals in the culinary industry and what makes the new programme special.
If one googles “Culinary Management” one does not find many programmes in Germany. Why does Germany need this degree programme?
We have observed an increasing focus on academic qualifications in the hotel and catering industry. The German Hotel and Restaurant Association Ltd. DEHOGA, has been complaining about a lack of motivated and qualified specialists in the industry for a long time. Especially in classic gastronomy, the demand for employees is constantly growing, but the number of trainees for example as a cook or restaurant manager, is declining. With this in mind, it is important to enable young people who are interested in gastronomy to get the preparation they need to meet the work demands of the hotel and catering industry, and it is important to develop attractive management opportunities in the industry.
There are cooks and there is a service staff, but what does a culinary manager do?
The professional field is very diverse. Culinary managers play a leading role, for example, in kitchen or restaurant management in the hotel and catering industry. The key is to have a combination of practical kitchen experience and business management skills. This involves business planning, as well as managing and controlling operative kitchen and restaurant processes. The work includes organisational responsibilities and, further along in the career path, leadership responsibilities for the specialised tasks of purchasing, safety & hygiene, food planning and production, personnel scheduling, kitchen technology and much more.
Should a culinary manager also be proficient in the art of cooking?
Yes, absolutely. One should enjoy cooking and be interested in the trade. It is the heart of this profession. We affirm this in our degree programme by integrating practical work phases at facilities of our partner companies. It underscores why we recommend this dual studies degree programme not only to high school graduates with an enthusiasm for cooking, culinary arts or working in a restaurant, but also as an attractive option for cooks who have university entrance qualifications. They are already well versed in kitchen operations and culinary arts and can, above all, deepen and expand their business, nutritional and management skills.
In which areas are culinary managers needed? Is it limited to the hotel and restaurant industry or to a certain size company?
The job opportunities for culinary managers with a bachelor’s degree are diverse. In general, they are needed in the upscale sector of the hotel and restaurant industry, e.g. in the kitchen and catering businesses of hotels and restaurants. There they work independently, organise, plan and prepare the basis for decisions to be made by kitchen or restaurant chefs, or implement the decisions themselves. The degree programme prepares one for professional jobs as, for example, kitchen chef, banquet manager, restaurant manager and food & beverage manager. Jobs in premium system catering are also an option. Here, culinary managers are in high demand.
What does a typical day in the life of a culinary manager look like?
This completely depends on whether he or she is working in a kitchen, a restaurant or in banquet management. If we consider the kitchen, the routine is very similar to that of a junior chef or chef. The workday usually starts later than other professions, and ends later in the evening. One also has to work on weekends and holidays since this is when many people like to go out to eat. A culinary manager, of course, gets compensation for this. The workday itself usually begins with team meetings in the kitchen to assign the tasks of the day and prepare for daily business. This includes staffing as well as food and menu planning, which is usually based on the menu, the so-called à la carte business. After twelve noon, daily business dominates. It is necessary to cook and prepare the guests’ orders. In the afternoon, it gets quieter and the priority is on cleaning and hygiene. Starting in the late afternoon, preparations are made for the evening. Here it is also necessary to clarify which team members are responsible for which tasks. In the early evening, the a la carte business begins. Here the goal is to coordinate kitchen processes so that they run smoothly and professionally, even under high pressure, to ensure that guests are served their food on time. In the late evening, it quiets down. Now it is time to clean the kitchen and prepare for the next day.
What are the challenges of the profession?
One challenge is certainly the willingness to engage in a service intensive job and accept working hours – typical of the hotel and restaurant business – that do not conform to the classic 9 to 5 office job. One also has to be willing to work with people and take on responsibilities in the kitchen or restaurant team. It is also important to have an interest in innovative cooking and new trends in gastronomy and nutrition, in order to adopt trends and turn them into delicious dishes for your guests.
What are the career prospects?
The career opportunities are excellent. On the one hand, because many positions for culinary managers remain vacant today and some companies react to these staff shortages by restricting operations. On the other hand, because the hotel and restaurant industry has become an important job engine, not only in Germany but also throughout Europe. There ae enormous opportunities here for motivated and qualified culinary managers.
Prof Dr Kurt Jeschke joined IUBH in 2004. He studied economics at the University of Hannover and then worked for more than ten years as a specialist in service management, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty as a consultant and partner for international consulting companies in Germany and Switzerland. Parallel to his position as a professor for service management and service marketing at IUBH, he has held various function in university management (including IUBH Dean of Studies, IUBH Prorector for Research and Teaching and Prorector for Campus Studies). He is currently a member of the IUBH Rectorate, responsible for the development and implementation of customised corporate programmes and academies.
Picture copyright: IUBH