Director Of Food Operations Scott Van der Hoek Q&A

As recruitment for Chefs and kitchen teams ramps up across the sector, what do you think are the most important factors to the modern chef looking for a new role?

We are finding a shift in what is most important to chefs and what makes them tick as we emerge from the pandemic, for me what is important to Chefs now is: work life balance, salary, progression opportunities, and benefits.

And how do you think Scotsman Hospitality is addressing those?

I believe we are definitely moving with the times, and that is so important. We are a fast moving, finger on the pulse company who are super responsive when it comes to guest wants and needs, and it is important that we use this same intuition when it comes to our current and prospective staff. We are looking at every aspect of how we can attract more staff, how we train them and how we retain them. Without our people we are nothing.

We currently offer: up to 30% bonus for Head Chefs (making us one of the highest in the sector), discretionary service charges and 100% tips to staff via TRONC, food on shift, 2 weeks in advance rotas, trips and learning experiences, bespoke Chef Development Programmes, and significant investment in our kitchen areas and equipment. We are also looking at additional measures such as 4 day working week trial.

As Food Director, what are you main objectives for the business in 2021?

I have many objectives for 2021 but the main one is becoming the most attractive place to work in the Scottish Hospitality sector. What will set us apart from the rest, what we can do to entice, develop and retain great people.

Using the tools I have mentioned above to make us as attractive as possible while also communicating this to the wider public and making sure all the great things we are doing in the background aren’t our best kept secret. Social media now is such an integral part of our lives, even more so after coming out of lockdown where it was pretty much our only form or communication and source of community. I think we need to be smart with it and use it to our advantage to spread the word that we are making a stand and are changing the ways we work to change the expectation we place on our workers.

What tools do you make available to Chef’s in order to progress their career with Scotsman Hospitality?

We are lucky enough to have a dedicated team of market leading professionals who make up the L&D department and HR department who look after everything from the new Personal Development Programmes we are launching, to Base camp (our bespoke on line learning platform) to bespoke training modules and sessions, the review and one to one process so our staff are listened to and taken seriously, and so much more.

From a chef point of view we have launched the new menu process which is more interactive from all levels of chefs in the business, we are introducing a dedicated Hospitality Training Centre to have a hub of creativity, learning and development with a state of the art cooking facility to train up and coming chef new to the industry. The new PDP plans will give a clear guide to development for each and every member of the team and enable them to progress at a good pace.

Who is a good example of this?

There are so many: Lewis Smith started with us as a KP 14 years ago and worked his way through the ranks and is now an Operations Chef, responsible for everything food related in 10 businesses while also looking after the stocks and figures for £25million in food turn over per year.

Derek Regan started with us 14 years ago as a CDP and has worked his way up though the ranks and is now an Operations chef for 10 venues. He has been instrumental in bring the Serving Up Success Programme to life and, alongside L&D, is working on everything learning and development for the food side of the business.