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S.Pellegrino launches Young Chef Academy Monitor report

South Africa, March 2021 - S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy, launched in November by S.Pellegrino, has launched, in collaboration with Fine Dining Lovers, the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Monitor 2021. The report aims to understand the perceptions and sentiments of young chefs (aged 18-34) about their working conditions and perspectives.
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Despite the impact of the global pandemic that has hit chefs under the age of 35 hard, they are optimistic and see a future in the industry, but admitting they need to develop new skills to face the upcoming challenges.

Main highlights


The current working conditions

The year 2020 has been unprecedented and disruptive for everyone in the industry: just over 30% are receiving their usual salary while 22% are unemployed, largely due to the crisis. What’s more, over three-quarters of young chefs who are still paid are concerned about losing their jobs because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, in such uncertain times, young chefs are optimistic and resilient: 56% of those that are unemployed or working full time with a reduced salary are hopeful of finding a new job soon. Over 70% are confident of working in the industry in the coming years and close to 60% hope to open a restaurant in the future.

Perceived educational gaps

Although training is seen as a key activity to face the challenges of tomorrow's industry with more than 64% of young chefs that say they need to develop new skills, 54% train infrequently or not at all. This is largely due to cost: for 67% of the interviewees, the cost is the most important factor when choosing training.

The main areas they would like to improve in are restaurant finance, business management, and marketing and communication while the top three points of strength they recognise in themselves are team management/leadership, waste management, and new cooking techniques.

Factors impacting the role of chefs

What does the future look like? The interviewed chefs feel the industry is at a turning point: which are the top three factors that will affect the role of the chef?

The global pandemic is not considered the main driver (47%), preceded by the rise in environmental consciousness and in the demand for sustainable practices in gastronomy (about 52%) and followed by the increasingly prepared and demanding consumers (45%). Improved business models for restaurants (23%), better training opportunities (21%) and better unemployment benefits (19%) are the changes that the respondents want to see most during the post-Covid era.

Tom Jenkins, S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy spokesperson, says: "The inaugural S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Monitor has been revealed as a vital tool for understanding the next generation of chefs.

"It has highlighted an ambitious and positive group, despite current circumstances. It has shown they are keen to learn, even if hindered by training costs. That’s why it’s so important to offer them a comprehensive and free educational program, as the academy does for the young talents selected through the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition. The academy gives both them and more experienced chefs the chance to connect and discuss professional themes of interest, including the former's priorities when it comes to learning new skills."

Marcus Gericke (Le Chêne), Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award winner for Africa & the Middle East, shares Tom’s sentiments: "Bringing together these young chefs to speak to the future generations is heart-warming and gives me great inspiration and motivation that our industry will get back on track."

The S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Monitor 2021 is an essential part of the academy's educational programme and its results were previewed in two seminars in December 2020 in the Academy’s private Facebook group, featuring world-renowned chefs such as Andreas Caminada, Clare Smyth, Enrico Bartolini, Gavin Kaysen, Manu Buffara, and Mauro Colagreco, as well as Fine Dining Lovers’ Editor-in-Chief, Ryan King.

Winner of the 2019 S.Pellegrino Young Chef, Africa and Middle East region, Paul Prinsloo (Gåte Restaurant) sees himself as the one example of what a competition like S. Pellegrino Young Chef and the resulting academy can do for young chefs.

"They have given me an opportunity that I never thought possible when I was just an apprentice," he says. "The fact that there is a brand that's trying to improve/expose young chef to the world is amazing, and for that, I will forever be grateful."

The observational activity will be run periodically in order to highlight the needs and hopes of young chefs, the game-changing culinary talents of the future.

Learn more about the research and its methodology.
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