Working in the hospitality industry can be incredibly cutthroat and for many, the past-paced kitchen environment can become too much. Others choose to leave the industry to enhance their career prospects, start their own business or even start a family, and as such, returning to the hospitality workforce after an extended period of absence can be daunting. Whatever your reasons, getting back into the kitchen as an out-of-work chef doesn’t have to be tough – and below, we’ve bundled together some useful tips and tricks to help you on your journey…
If you’ve not worked in the hospitality industry for ten or more years, then you’ll likely find the idea of returning to the kitchen pretty scary. The industry has changed significantly in recent years, and although it’s performing well right now, the recession and automation have meant many job losses and changes to practices. What’s more, many pubs and restaurants have been taken over by multinational chains with their own unique working practices and style.
Throw yourself into the deep end by volunteering at a restaurant or cafe for a few hours per week until you build up your confidence. Not only does volunteering help you develop skills and give back to your community, but it looks great on your CV when you’re looking for a job.
Build up your experience
Rather head straight back into paid employment? Consider applying for relief chef jobs rather than taking on a full-time position, as you’ll find it’s easier to secure a role and you don’t have the pressure of being stuck in the same job for years. What’s more, relief chefs are often well-paid and companies offer perks such as free food and accommodation to sweeten the deal. Spending a year or two travelling around different restaurants in your local area as a relief chef will give you immeasurable experience – in many ways, the same levels of experience as working in different kitchens for ten years – and positions you as a favourite when you’re ready to climb the career ladder and apply for head chef positions in the future.
Get a mentor
Another way to make your return to the kitchen less daunting is to find a mentor who can be with you through your early days back at work. Be open and upfront with hiring managers about your experiences and let them know that you’d value a mentor who you can shadow to get experience and turn to for advice. Of course, not all establishments are accommodating to individuals’ needs, so you might need to persuade bosses to give you a break, and having a mentor who can defend your corner and get you back up to scratch will no doubt be useful.
Start your own business
Finally, consider bucking the trend and utilising your old hospitality skills to start your own business. Working for yourself offers so many benefits – you can choose your own hours, earn more money and do things your way – and with Britons spending more on eating out than ever before, there has never been a better time to get your foot in the door and start your own restaurant, cafe, hotel, or bed and breakfast. Rely upon talented individuals to support your journey and remember that you can never stop learning – books, courses, TV shows, academies, blogs and YouTube channels can keep you at the top of your game.
There you have it – just some of the ways to get back into the kitchen after spending some time doing other things. Chefs have something in their blood – whether you last cooked a dish ten minutes or ten years ago, you never lose your magic touch, so use it wisely!