Kobald gets top job at RoyalMnandiFebruary 27th, 2012 by Andrew Moth | Categories: food, industry, people, restaurants, tourism, training
RoyalMnandi, an outsourced catering company, has appointed Martin Kobald as its national corporate executive chef.
Kobald has been tasked with changing the face of corporate dining at RoyalMnandi as he focuses on up-skilling cooks and empowering chefs, as well as creating fresh, modern menus and revitalising quality and service standards.
“My initial focus will be on training within RoyalMnandi. It is my goal to up-skill as many cooks as possible through updating already existing internal training programmes. I would like to see as many cooks as possible achieve a formal cooking qualification which will open the door to a long and successful career as a chef.
“I will also be identifying and nurturing fresh talent or what I like to call ‘champions’ and through mentoring them, encourage them to fulfil their full potential.”
Although skills shortages are not uncommon across most industries in South Africa, there are a number of unique challenges that corporate catering companies must overcome. It is here that Kobald will play a key role.
“One of the biggest factors which has impacted on corporate dining over the past decade has been the adoption of a healthier lifestyle. The majority of the workforce are more informed when it comes to food and expect and demand a certain standard to be delivered,” says Kobald.
“It’s no longer a case of arriving and eating whatever is available on that day in order to keep hunger at bay and get through the rest of the day. Instead customers want variety and choice and food has to look good and be presented in appetising ways. We are all competing with the nearby restaurant and need to be able to serve food which is as good, if not better, to maintain a level of loyalty.”
Here again Kobald says training comes into play. Together with the internal training department there will be a strong focus on educating staff on healthier cooking methods, for example steaming as opposed to frying and using less butter and cream.
“Internationally, corporate catering companies are partnering with HR departments within their corporate clients to enhance internal staff wellness drives. They are also being asked to co-operate with in-house medical schemes which will pass on necessary health-related information that may influence food choices and meal options in the staff restaurants.
This not only ensures healthier staff but helps lower medical scheme risk and thereby cost. This is not happening locally yet, but clients expect their outsourced catering partner to be knowledgeable about what is on offer, how it is prepared and if necessary provide vegetarian or specific diet-related, such as gluten-free options.”
Delivering the type of menus required within the tight operating margins, coupled with the continuous increase in food prices is an ongoing challenge.
“Only through implementing stringent systems and processes can you ensure profitability and sustainability in this industry. Seemingly small measures like weight control and portion control within the kitchens have a huge impact on monthly turnover. Here, knowledge and consistency is key and once again this will mean specific training in this area,” comments Kobald.
Together with technology and lifestyle changes, demographic changes within the local workforce have also made their mark on the staff restaurant.
“Historically ethnic meals were predominantly supplied to blue-collar workers; this is no longer the case. The younger, educated, culturally diverse workforce still demands and expects traditional local cuisine. So we have gone back to the drawing-board and created traditional local dishes combining the flavours and ingredients but incorporating more fine-dining into the presentation.”
According to Kobald, Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, entering the workforce have played a major role in initiating current changes and trends.
“They don’t even like to swipe meal cards, but rather want to do it all on their smart phone. They no longer want to meet the chef, but would prefer to Tweet the chef. South Africa is not there yet but it’s certainly close on the horizon,” he says.