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The results of our survey of young chefs are finally in – read on for insight into the habits and interests of the next generation of food professionals.

At Lockhart Catering Equipment, we feel it’s important to support both established and up-and-coming chefs throughout their careers. After all, it’s the talent and innovation of our chefs that in large part helps to keep the restaurant industry fresh and exciting – and we do have some amazing talent working in Britain today.

This is why last we were proud to sponsor the main stage at The Restaurant Show 2013 last month, as well as the National Chef of the Year and Young National Chef of the Year awards. It’s a great way to highlight the work of some of our brightest chefs, but it also got us thinking – how is the experience of young chefs who are just entering the industry today likely to differ from that of previous generations?

After all, this new wave of chefs has been brought up in the age of the internet and celebrity culture, when dining out is arguably more popular than ever. Britain has evolved into a nation of foodies, with cookery challenges and baking competitions amongst the most popular programmes on television. TV chefs are now famous in their own right, with followings to rival those of established pop stars and footballers. What’s more, a growing audience of foodies now inhabit the online sphere, sharing recipes and photos of their food via blogs and social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter.

It all represents a fascinating new challenge for the next generation of chefs, and we wondered how they plan to approach it. With this is mind, we decided to conduct a survey of young chefs aged 16 to 23 and find out about their inspirations, aspirations, and what their experience of the industry has been like so far. Some of the results may surprise you…

Infographic of the Lockhart Young Chefs Survey 2013 results

Read on to learn more about some of the other findings from the survey:

Student Chefs Today

The vast majority (78.6%) of our respondents are currently studying to be chefs. They were fairly evenly split along gender lines (46.3% female versus 53.7% male) and came from a variety of locations across Britain.

In many ways, their lifestyle is perhaps more representative of that of a student rather than that of a chef. Almost half of them (42.9%) get 8 or more hours of sleep a night, which we suspect may change once they start following the shift patterns typical of chef jobs. Similarly, 56.1% of them drink 2 or fewer cups of coffee or tea a day, while a further 19.5% drink none whatsoever – we suspect this also may change once they embark on a full-time career as a chef.

As we’re obviously pretty interested in kitchen equipment, we asked the young chefs which gadget they couldn’t live without: 32.5% said their knives, while other close contenders were food/hand blenders (15%) and the electric whisk (12.5%).

Chefs Online

Like most young people today, you would expect our chefs to spend a considerable amount of time online each day. Just over half of the respondents (54.8%) spent between 1 and 2 hours online each day. A further 26.2% are heavier users, spending more than 4 hours on the internet each day.

Some of that time might be spent looking for menu ideas - 78.0% of the respondents said they source recipes online. The most popular sources for online recipes were Google (78.6 of the respondents used search) and recipes databases, such as the BBC Good Food website (59.5% used these).

Of the social media channels, Facebook is still the most widely used, with 47.6% of the respondents using it to connect to customers, beating out Instagram (19.0%), LinkedIn (9.5%), Twitter (7.1%) and Pinterest (0%). Half of the respondents said that they didn’t use social media professionally at all, but again, this is likely due to their student status – we suspect more and more chefs and restaurants will be going social in future as this becomes an ever bigger part of most business’s marketing efforts.

Celebrity Chef Heroes

All of the respondents specified a celebrity chef they looked up to, with Jamie Oliver gaining the majority vote (33.3%). He just edged out Gordon Ramsey (28.6%), but placed well ahead of Nigella Lawson (9.5%). Other favourites included Alain Ducasse, James Martin, Albert Roux, Michel Roux, Anthony Bourdain, Lorraine Pascale, Tom Kitchin, Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal and Simon Rogan.

Like much of the viewing public, our young chefs aren’t immune to the lure of television cookery programmes. By far the most popular are MasterChef (which 69% of the respondents watch) and the Great British Bake Off (which 66.7% watch). Other popular programmes were The Great British Menu and Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (26.2%).

However, more of the respondents were inspired to become chefs after cooking at home with their parents (75.6%) than were inspired by watching cookery programmes or celebrity chefs (48.8%).

What do you think of the results of the Young Chef survey? Are there any responses that surprised you or you expected to be different?


Lockhart Catering on 2 December 2013 11:40 AM

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