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Future of Food - Online Industry Forum

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On 4th November, Le Cordon Bleu London held a special online industry forum in partnership with COREcruitment to discuss the future of the food industry, bringing together industry leaders in order to increase communication, share best practices and to give advice across the sectors they operate in and discuss what the future holds. The event was hosted by COREcruitment's Krishnan Doyle and Le Cordon Bleu lecturer, Nitin Radhakrishnan.

The hosts were joined by a panel of knowledgeable representatives from the hospitality sector, including Chris Galvin, Chef and Patron of Galvin Restaurants, Andrew Wong, Chef and Founder of A WONG, Ryan Holmes, Culinary Director – B&I at Eurest UK, Atul Kochhar, Chef and Restaurateur, David Simms, Culinary Director for Restaurant Associates, Andrew Aston, Head of Wellness & Nutrition at BaxterStorey and Luciana Berry, Le Cordon Bleu Alumna, Top Chef Brazil 2020 champion and London-based caterer.

Panellists were first invited to speak about their experiences coming up in the culinary industry and how things have changed since they started out, followed by a question and answer session conducted by Nitin Radhakrishnan. As the topic was the future of food, the questions were focussed on the most pressing issues facing the industry currently, including Brexit, the pandemic, recruitment and food trends.

Chris Galvin showed an optimistic view on the resilience of the food industry. Commenting on how we would move forward after Brexit he said ‘We’ve got amazing farmers, fisherman artists scientists, architects, it’s an amazing country and an amazing industry that we work in why should it have changed? After what we’ve all gone through this year, I think that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Moving on to reflect on the pandemic, Chris said ‘What I love that’s come out of the COVID era is collaboration, I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to so many chefs – sharing ideas, sharing problems, and finding out how we can overcome things.’

Recruitment and retention of jobs is a subject particularly important for culinary students and professionals alike now more than ever. To ensure people’s longevity in this sector David Simms offered the following advice: ‘It’s about nurturing the juniors in the business, giving them scope, giving them the time so you can really develop them.’ The panellists agreed that although this is an uncertain time for the sector, there are opportunities out there and they expect to see a lot of activity come the end of the first quarter of 2021.

There has been an undeniable increased focus on wellness and wellbeing in hospitality recently, and it was questioned whether this is a trend or a permanent change for the better? Andrew Aston was the perfect person to address this question, on which he said ‘Wellness and mental health aren’t a trend, it’s real and we all go through it, and if we’re well then our productivity improves, which means the end consumer, our guests and clients get a great deal – they get great food and service.’ He went on to talk about the importance of looking after those re-entering the workplace following time on furlough, in terms of retraining.

Overall, the attitude of the panel was a positive one, though clearly there are challenges to face, but ultimately a reassuring message to those in the industry already as well as those who plan to enter it in the future.

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