Culinary Students Need More Mentors; Not Just Technology

-B Swaminathan (publisherchefbharath@gmail.com)

M S Rajmohan is an Indian Chef who is known for his expertise in South Indian Cuisine and his country-style food preparation. He is an educationist, consultant chef, cookery show presenter, recipe writer and holds a world record title for the ‘Longest Solo Cooking Marathon’ in 2015 and holds the Guinness world record on largest bean salad in the year 2018.  In an exclusive interaction with ‘ChefBharath.com’, he discusses the recent trends India is going through with the student-chefs and his suggestions for the young chef community. Edited excerpts. 

You are a research scholar as well as a trainer. What is your view on the students’ aspiration towards becoming Chefs?

Students are still enthusiastic. However, they need continuous motivation. What they need bigtime is mentorship from the industry. How much ever, the technology is advanced, there has been a gap in terms of mentorship for the students. If you take the rural students mainly are more impressed in becoming a Chef. However, what the students from the big cities attain in terms of modern cooking equipment, seminars, internships, are generally missed by the students from the small town. They need a proper channel for their aspiration level.

Do you see the enthusiasm of students to enter the Kitchen to build a career is lesser to their aspiration levels in the front office?

The demand for manpower is more in the front office, housekeeping profession. Thus, even a below-average student gets hired as a full-time staff. However, to be in the kitchen, one should have some level of specialization and niche. Afterall, culinary is an art. The student should be trained in such a way he or she builds a career in the toughest way in the kitchen. Thus I notice, whoever is ready to accept the challenge to be a chef, can be rest assured it is the gateway for any profession in the entire hospitality industry.

There are also views that interns who are working in the kitchen are ill-treated by seniors in many places. Is it true? Why there is no mechanism to stop it.

This practice was there earlier. Chefs are becoming more aware. They are exposed to global concepts and HR policies. They are finding other smart ways to get the things done from their team. Because the senior chefs who had gone through hardships do not want their juniors to face the same. However, it is the fact that most of the students today are not willing to accept even a small challenge inside the kitchen. Retaining the professionals in the kitchen is still a challenge.

What suggestions you would give to have a decent working atmosphere for the Chefs?

Employers should ensure that Chefs undergo continuous learning and training. They should come outside the kitchen and mingle with society.  When a Chef gets these things happening on a regular basis, there will always be a better output getting reflected in the kitchen.

What is your view on the way a chef is treated by society?

Chefs are also considered in terms of professionalism. In fact, I would say people consider them on par to the auditors, doctors and more. The day when people started thinking of eating the right food, Chefs started thinking about their life outside the kitchen too. Today, Chefs are finding avenues like media, guest speakers, blogging, YouTubing and more.

What is your advice for the young-chefs

Never stop putting effort. Please keep yourself engaged from the student level. Whenever you are engaged in something you will have better learning avenues. I see many are determined to achieve something. However, have a time frame for your dreams and be committed to that. Wherever you find avenues, please explore every single opportunity to get yourself exposed to the world.

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