Educational

News from Canada

News from our Ambassador for Education, Master Chef Elaina Kourie

29 July 2021

By Master Chef Elaina Kourie, MWMCS

Practical training that offers an additional opportunity to enhance the curricula and present real-life practicum and opportunities for our students to meet the current demands and trends in the industry. In the recent past, the concept of ghost kitchens has debuted in the culinary arena as a different style of restaurant operation. students to meet the current demands and trends in the industry. In the recent past, the concept of ghost kitchens has debuted in the culinary arena as a different style of restaurant operation.

What is a ghost kitchen you might ask? According to Google:

A ghost kitchen (also known as a delivery-only restaurant, virtual kitchen, shadow kitchen, commissary kitchen, cloud kitchen or dark kitchen) is professional food preparation and cooking facility set up for the preparation of delivery-only meals. They exist only on delivery apps or websites: they might either be a satellite location for a brick-and-mortar establishment or restaurant/food business that exists only on an app.

One of the very few areas in our industry to experience growth in the last few years is the kitchen only concept. EuroMonitor International put out a report recently suggesting kitchen only restaurants annually account for a $1.5 trillion (USD) share of the European restaurant sector by 2030. The bottom line, the ghost kitchens are fast-growing and offer a “brave new world of data-driven, search-optimized virtual restaurants.”

Unlike traditional restaurant establishments requiring long-term leases, ghost kitchen restaurant owners can rent space in fully equipped establishments for a set period. This lower-cost alternative to operating a traditional restaurant has grown 300% faster than the dine-in operation in the last few years.

As brick-and-mortar food establishments have legal obligations and are regulated by the City’s Health Department and Planning Department, the same is true for Ghost kitchens. All business and health standards and codes continue to apply to them.

This concept presents a new opportunity for Culinary Schools and Culinary Training. Many of which include as part of the practical components, an “Open-to-the-public” module or a permanent restaurant facility to give the students a real-life experience to enhance their training.

Customarily, these are full-service and focus on fine dining traditions, offering students the opportunity to practice the classical skills and techniques for front of the house and back of the house. We cannot underestimate the importance of “live” service and the opportunities it presents to the students by fortifying their hands-on training.

The issues of shifting operational trends and changing times present challenges and opportunities for Culinary Educators, not just in Canada, but globally. How do this new technology and traditional culinary curricula come together to meet the demands of our evolving industry? As Culinary Schools and Educators we have a duty to teach dining room service and work-integrated learning styles that warrant in-person guests. The concept of the ghost kitchen unifies the realities for many students: social media, apps, cell phones, digital imagery, and the like allow for the potential of a restaurant idea within reach.

Rather than replacing the traditional “open-to-the public” or the brick-and-mortar restaurant, the ghost kitchen concept in part or in its entirety offers a new additional opportunity for training to meet the demands of industry trends and future growth. This allows the students working in groups to understand the pressures of Chefs that moved their operations to apps to stay in business and reflect on how to design and communicate a brand through imagery, menu cohesiveness and through social media platforms.

As Culinary Educators, it is our duty to fortify and prepare our students by training in culinary excellence. We also equip them with all the knowledge and skills necessary to meet current industry trends and demands. Setting them up for a successful future in our industry.

An educated Chef is a powerful Chef that will support growth and professionalism in our beloved industry. This necessities the integration of technology in culinary curricula moving forward taking into account many things, but undoubtedly kitchen only restaurants are here to stay and we need to be ready with curricula that nurtures a successful graduate ready for the workforce.

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