Chefs on the Line is a new series from General Mills Foodservice that puts the Chefs of the Mills in real-world scenarios, where they must think on their feet to solve problems foodservice operators face every day.
In the first episode, Chefs Ted and Jessie tackled a particularly challenging issue facing back-of-house operators: keeping up when staff keeps calling out. Under intense pressure to execute brunch on time, the chefs worked together to create unique takes on traditional brunch menu items.
The challenge made for great entertainment, but it also highlighted a very real problem that has operators in a stranglehold as they manage demand that most definitely has not slowed down.
“Labor's always been an issue, but it's even more so now. I think that's probably the biggest change and the one that folks have to adapt to in foodservice,” says Chef Ted.
Chef Ted Osorio is one of the Chefs of the Mills and brings over 30 years of experience across hotels, fine dining restaurants, catering, and non-commercial operations. His diverse experience has shown him pretty much every challenge imaginable, but even he admits that staffing issues are a constant in the industry, and often without a simple solution.
“The pandemic happened, and I think people had time with their families. And this can be back-breaking work, and sometimes it can really be a thankless job, and you're not getting paid a whole lot of money, and it takes you away from your family.”
“These people had time to think, and they're probably saying, Man, this is the most time I've had with my family. I don't know if I want to do foodservice again.”
And Chef Ted isn’t wrong. The restaurant labor force has the largest employment deficit of any industry in the United States, with a deficit of over 450,000 jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels¹.
Data shows that inconsistent leadership has had a particularly large impact on the levels of churn, with limited growth opportunities and lower pay levels coming in closely behind.
Unless operators do something quickly to address these issues, we’re looking at continuing a nearly half million-employee deficit in the sector into the next year.
Motivated foodservice leaders know this challenge all too well though, and are doing everything they can to get, train, and retain quality staff. Smart leaders are offering their staff the education they need for upward mobility, the highest pay rates they can afford, and reforming bad management practices to create better working cultures.
For our part, General Mills Foodservice has pivoted with operators, helping to address the bottlenecks created by the labor shortage with innovative new products that reduce prep time and the need to train staff — many of which are brand new to cooking.
“I think what we do very well is really focus on creating products that are consistent and user-friendly. User-friendly for operators, and just good products that are going to be functional and consistent with what operators need out there.”— Chef Ted
General Mills Foodservice believes in consistent, high-quality products that keep it simple, with versatile kitchen staples and training resources to reduce prep time and the staffing needed to keep kitchens open.
For chefs like Ted, flexible and reliable staples make a world of difference in balancing the creativity that makes him passionate about cooking, with the limitations of a short-staffed kitchen.
“I like the biscuits because of the versatile things we can do with them, what we create with them.”
“I love our mixes that we create too. I've done a lot with those, and I'm pretty proud of what I've come up with, what my team has come up with using these products.”
General Mills Pillsburyᵀᴹ Frozen Biscuit Dough Southern Style go from freezer-to-oven with a warm, flaky from-scratch texture made from wholesome and real ingredients that any chef would give their seal of approval on. They’re a perfect breakfast staple of course, but can also be seen in our Biskies award-winning recipes, where chefs around the country have turned these simple biscuits into beautiful and delicious creations.
General Mills Foodservice has several kitchen staples that are quick and easy to make, and that don’t compromise quality for convenience. Our Pillsbury™ Supreme™ Freezer-to-Oven Frozen Cinnamon Rolls are always a crowd favorite, and Pillsburyᵀᴹ Freezer-to-Oven Croissants elevate a breakfast spread with little prep required.
Whether it’s a great product reducing the prep time in your kitchen, or a free training resource that you didn’t have to put together yourself, General Mills Foodservice is here to serve as a resource to the key ingredient to the world’s kitchens: foodservice operators.
We recognize the endless labor and dedication you put into your role, and know that all too often, it’s a hard job full of long days. With easy-to-use products and a team of professional support at your disposal, we hope to make those long days just a little easier, and to relieve the heavy weight so many operators carry to keep kitchens running.
From our kitchen to yours, hang in there — we’ll be with you every step of the way.
Have a challenge for the Chefs of the Mills? Submit your challenge here — it could be featured in an upcoming episode, post, or article!
1) Grindy, B. (2023, January 6). Restaurants added jobs in 24 consecutive months. National Restaurant Association.
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