Duncan Fraser-Smith, The Cutting Edge Agency was one of the speakers on the panel. Duncan Fraser-Smith, The Cutting Edge Agency was one of the speakers on the panel.

In a panel discussion at Caterer Conference 2014, titled “The Rise of ‘Chef & B’s’”, speakers debated whether chefs should be put in a position to handle both front and back end of a restaurant considering their high level of product knowledge, and the potential disadvantages of this.

Uwe Micheel, director of kitchens, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek led the discussion, with Mark Patten, senior vice president f&b. Atlantis, The Palm. Sebastian Nohse, director of culinary, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai. Duncan Fraser-Smith, managing director, The Cutting Edge Agency and Mohammed Islam, founder & chef, Atelier M taking part.

According to Nohse, the main challenge for chefs moving into a front of house role is having to deal with a new team with different priorities to back of house staff. “You need to rethink how you customise your training and how you can inspire different job categories,” he commented.

Fraser-Smith agreed adding that one major disadvantage of a chef taking on a front of house role is if they can “take their eye off the ball in the kitchen” because the new role poses a huge learning curve. “In front of house you have to interact differently. Sometimes you can actually see a dip in business if the chef isn’t paying attention to back of house.” He adds that the role has to be something the chef really wants to take on rather than something thrust upon them.

Islam said that it’s crucial to ensure that the chef can be replaced if moving into a front of house position such as director of f&b. “Are you ready to move that person? Can you fill the empty space and can this person do the job? The answer to all of these questions has to be yes.”

A focus on consistency is crucial to ensure operations continue to run smoothly no matter what, added Patten, commenting: “We have to keep investing in people.”

Caterer Middle East: Food & Business Conference 2014 took place on March 18 at Ritz-Carlton DIFC, Dubai and attracted over 150 food and beverage professionals from Dubai and beyond.

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