We were pleased to chat to Head Chef, Stefan Sewell from the Combined Service Culinary Arts Team about some of the impacts Coronavirus has had on his kitchen operation, adjustments that have been made and what the future looks like.
How have the past few months been for you?
The year has been very challenging; as Head of Chef Training we have continued student training throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The biggest impact is how we deliver the training to the students following the government guidelines.
With regards to the Combined Services Culinary Arts Team (CSCAT) the pandemic has affected how we normally operate as a team. Unfortunately, we have not been able to meet up, as team members are posted all over the UK. With the luxury of social media and Zoom we have been able to stay in contact, which was my main aim as Team Captain, keeping our team cohesion.
What has been your biggest learning throughout the COVID-19 crisis?
Personally, my biggest learning from the pandemic, is to enjoy every moment in life. I take the simplest things in life for granted, for example enjoying being in the kitchen and having quality family time. I knew I was passionate about food; however, I did not realise how much I missed being able to develop menus and dishes with the team.
What changes or safety processes have been put into place to protect you, your team and those you cater for?
We have had to cancel all of our planned workshops throughout the year for the CSCAT team. This was a major disruption to our plans as we originally had planned for a training development year for the team, visiting our superb sponsors and developing juniors within the team.
In terms of your menu, have you simplified your offerings over the past couple of months?
As we do not officially operate as a restaurant, we have not produced any menus. This has been the hardest part for the team as we normally would have designed our menus and would be in the process of designing recipes for the Culinary World Cup and Culinary Competitions.
We have always used Essential Cuisine products on CSCAT and are very proud to have Essential Cuisine as one of our sponsors. The products are perfect for our cold work and give us the consistency we need to enable us to reach the standard of our sauces which we use when competing at the International Culinary Olympics and World Cup.
From my point of view, the greatest benefit would be the time saved in making (Stocks/Glace), especially with skeleton manning. Why not use a guaranteed product which will not only be delicious but time effective to your kitchen brigade?
Any messages or advice for fellow chefs in the current climate?
Hospitality is a fantastic business and I wish all involved within the industry the very best throughout these unprecedented times. From what I have seen on social media and across the industry is that the UK is constantly pushing and developing offers and it’s a pleasure to see that we, as an industry, are delivering and adapting. Keep cooking and stay safe.
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