Photo: Julia Dunin

Chef Network Skillnet, the training arm of Irish professional chef community Chef Network, has announced a series of 34 training events taking place across the country this autumn.

The events, which will be peer-led, will be designed to address key challenges across the hospitality and foodservice sectors. A focus will be placed on personal and leadership skills, business skills and culinary skills through masterclasses, hands-on workshops, forums, seminars and best practice visits.

As the training events are subsidised through support from Skillnet Ireland, the events will be provided to member chefs and employers at ‘significantly’ reduced rates.

“Chefs are a major, and sometimes undervalued, asset of every food or hospitality businesses. Employers need to invest in their chefs in order to keep them. We are focussed on supporting chefs and their employers with professional development that is chef-led, helping them progress on their career path and helping retain talent in the sector,” said Ruth Hegarty, Head of Community at Chef Network. “The skill-set required for mid- to senior-level chefs is vast and goes way beyond cooking ability. That is why our training through the Chef Network Skillnet covers not only culinary skills but also essential personal & leadership and business skills. Chef Network also has a big focus on wellness and culture change, because we recognise that as an industry we need to look after our people better.”

The events will vary from a two-day best practice visit to Copenhagen to a 12-week accredited course in Leading & Managing People. A one-day Student Industry Forum will be held in IT Tallaght on November 6th to connect culinary arts students and lecturers across the country with industry chefs in a bid to explore opportunities and career progression. A variety of masterclasses and workshops will tackle topics including Wild Food, Sourdough Baking, Fish & Meat Skills, and Tackling Waste.

Among the accomplished chefs who will deliver masterclasses in the autumn is Danni Barry, who achieved a Michelin star for Belfast’s Deanes EIPIC in 2015 before establishing Clenaghans Restaurant in Craigavon last year.

“I would strongly encourage chefs and employers to get involved with the Chef Network training. It gives your chefs the chance to go out and learn, and bring that back to the kitchen and to the rest of the team,” Barry explained. “I have personally gotten a lot out of my involvement; the learning goes far beyond the topic of the course itself. In Chef Network you are amongst your peers and at the training you are in an environment with fellow chefs, understanding not only what is happening in the industry but also that others face similar challenges. Any chef who is not already a member of Chef Network needs to sign up right now and employers need to get involved.”