Betting on Millenial Cooks

By Holly Jivin, as told to StarChefs

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Holly Jivin, as told to StarChefs
Chef Holly Jivin of The Bazaar by José Andrés
Chef Holly Jivin of The Bazaar by José Andrés

In a tight labor market and an industry with shifting kitchen cultural norms, Holly Jivin decided to double down on Millennial talent and less-than-qualified cooks to build her team at Bazaar by José Andrés. In her words, here’s advice on training, mentoring, and ensuring your kitchen is fully staffed.  

We have to quit sending people away because they don’t have the experience we want. It’s time to give it to them ourselves. I’ve taken on culinary students with no experience. I’ve also taken in individuals with no culinary training, encouraging them to go to a technical college or forgo school. I’m happy to give them textbooks and train them from within. 

Teach the future. In life, you start as the student, then progress to teacher, then you’re back to student, and then a teacher again. You learn a station, and then you train another cook so you can move on and learn another station. I learned all 10 stations and tackled both Bazaar and Saam. Now I take time to train my cooks, so when it’s time for them to take the next step, or leave for a new job, they aren’t just making a lateral move. They’re ready for the next level. 

Millennials need work/life balance. I have a small number of cooks who’d kill to come in early to work off the clock and learn new techniques and skills. I also have cooks who come in and give their all for a shift, but two days off, eight-hour shifts, and 30 minute breaks are an important part of the equation for them. It’s not how I was brought up in the kitchen, but I must adapt to it.  

Give them feedback. Coming up in the culinary world, sweat, cuts, burns, and hard work were part of the payoff. If I received a “good job,” it was welcome, but moving up the ranks was my most important goal. Today, young cooks need encouragement. So, change your mind set and give it to them!

Strive for consistency and deliver what you promise. Every shift that I work, I go around to all 10 stations and make sure I say goodnight to all of the cooks before I walk out the door. 

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