Sustainability training for chefs

The inclusion of sustainability issues within catering services can have a big impact on the food, farming and health sectors. With this this aim the Soil Association has joined a two-year, pan-European project to establish professional training and a qualification on sustainability issues for chefs and cooks. The partnership will develop European and country-specific recommendations for achieving this.

Sustainable development is usually specified by the inclusion of environmental, economic and social capitals. In the field of nutrition, the aspect of health has a central importance and is therefore considered a separate fourth dimension. Sustainability can therefore be made tangible and concrete to grasp within catering. The implementation of ‘sustainable cuisine’ places new challenges on cooks which are not conveyed in the usual professional training that is available. This applies to the areas of procurement – for example seasonable availability – storage, development of menus, process planning in the kitchen, calculation of quantities and prices, cooking practices, and the description of dishes on the menu. The use of organic foods also requires the proper handling of the statutory criteria of the EU regulation on organic production.

In addition top restaurants, hotels, canteens, hospitals and schools have differing requirements and considerations when implementing sustainability issues and for benefiting from the opportunities these present.

The project partners will analyse training needs and possibilities for implementing the recommendations in education and training. To do this, the partnership proposes a three-stage plan:

  • Stage 1 – a precise definition of the terms used: What are the requirements for sustainable catering and what is of particular relevance in various professional areas such as communal catering (schools, nurseries, hospitals, nursing facilities, etc.), gastronomy and tourism enterprises
    Definition of sustainability in professional cooking and qualification standards at the operational level [pdf, 153kb]
  • Stage 2 – an investigation into a number of factors: Which education and training opportunities are available for cooks in the partner countries and the European Union? How is the training of cooks organised and structured? Which certified levels of qualification and professional training are available in the partner countries with regard to jobs in catering and gastronomy/hotels? Which adequate training institutions exist in the partner countries? Which stakeholders (such as professional associations, commercial enterprises, and so on) are involved in the partner countries for the education and training of cooks and kitchen managers?
    National surveys on cooking training [pdf, 2.9mb]
  • Stage 3 – recommendations for European Standards, and initial considerations for the development, dissemination and implementation of adequate training modules and key skills for sustainability can be made.
    Draft of a European marketing and dissemination concept for training in sustainable cooking [pdf, 716kb]

The partnership project is funded by the Leonardo da Vinci Programme, part of the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme, and runs from October 2010 for two-years.