The culinary profession has become a star in recent years – especially after all the cooking shows on TV and not least
Chefs Table on Netflix
. Food is not just a source of nutrition, it is an art form and a craft. Despite this, the restaurant schools are empty. Today, there is a shortage of chefs and waiters and it is time to bring young talent into this great profession.
Jimmy Andersson Forzelius, chef and head teacher of Culinary Craft – a restaurant school at Thomasgymnasiet in Strängnäs, is working hard to show how creative and exciting the restaurant industry is.
“We really need to come together and work hard to get a good future in the hospitality industry,” says Jimmy Andersson Forzelius.
Why is there a shortage of students in restaurant schools in the country?
It was in 2011, when the upper secondary school reform on vocational and university preparatory programmes came into force, that fewer people applied for the vocational programmes – such as the Restaurant and Food Programme. What many people didn’t know at the time was that students who choose a vocational programme can simply opt for a few single courses to gain a higher education qualification. This is the main reason why there has been a shortage of students at restaurant schools in Sweden.
What is Culinary Craft?
Culinary Craft is a restaurant school that focuses on the craftsmanship behind different dishes, ingredients and baked goods. Students at the school therefore visit and are visited by people working in everything from game farms, slaughterhouses and bakeries to dairies and pastry shops. All so they can see how it’s done, for real. In Year 1, for example, everyone gets to churn their own butter and stuff their own sausage, to show how easy it is to actually make it yourself – from good ingredients.
The programme is currently developed in consultation with an Advisory Board, which includes star chef Fredrik Eriksson. In addition, a foundation has also been set up to strengthen and support Culinary Craft’s progress.
An innovative restaurant school
Culinary Craft is innovative in everything – new cooking methods, tools and environments. They want to create an accepting and permissive environment so that young people can be young people. You get to have music in your headphones while you cook, you get to be a little quirky, and above all – you get to be yourself. At Ancon, we came into contact with Jimmy when he was researching different POS systems, to see if there were any modern systems and tools for the restaurant industry that he could introduce to his students. Then he came over
our cash register
and other products like self-service counters and digital kitchen displays.
“It’s great to be able to show students that there are modern tools in the restaurant industry,” says Jimmy.
Entrepreneurship is an important aspect
In the “extended classroom”, students are also taught by well-established innovative entrepreneurs in local and regional businesses. A large part of the education is about entrepreneurship, daring to invest in what you believe in. Students therefore have the opportunity to start their own business through UF (Ung Företagsamhet) where they develop and wind up a company. During the training, they also learn about the connection between food and economy and how much you can work with a raw material. The economic point of view is very important in the programme.
Role models in the industry
Every young person needs a role model, whether playing football or cooking. Chefs are rock stars today, which is great when it comes to role models. Through Instagram and YouTube, for example, young people today can more easily follow their role models when cooking or posting food videos. Not only does this make it easier to be inspired and follow trends, but the student also has the opportunity to inspire others in their own channels.
What’s the difference between the old school restaurateurs and the new?
Culinary Craft looks to the future while maintaining traditions. The old school taught classic French cooking – today the focus is on Nordic cuisine, history and Swedish ingredients.
“I believe that Swedish traditional cooking can become an export product and a source of income. Just think of pickled vegetables!” says Jimmy.
Growing your own garden, running and owning a mini-farm or starting your own organic restaurant in the countryside is becoming increasingly common. We consumers are more likely to drive the extra mile to find these places.
“Cooking is not only a creative and exciting profession, we also have the whole world to work in,” Jimmy concludes.