The commercial cookery industry is becoming increasingly vulnerable to widespread abuse and is experiencing the collapse of a respectable and exclusive trade and career, says the Australian Institute of Technical Chefs (AITC), a new national industry group based in Victoria.

The term ‘chef’ is self-regulated and as such, many unqualified and inexperienced people are able to refer to themselves as being a chef – something which has hurt the industry and the profession, AITC says.

AITC has been established by a team of professional chefs, including well known industry identity and black hat chef George Hill, and is a not-for-profit association dedicated to promoting and improving industry standards, providing qualified and experienced chefs with “the recognition they deserve.” It intends to control the entry of appropriate chefs into the association, restricting it to those who possess the professional attributes required in order to practice as, and be acknowledged by the Institute as a legitimate professional chef.

The Institute aims to cooperate with existing professional chef organisations and other industry stakeholders, while also liasing with the government. It intends to promote the introduction of a chef license, via its TechicalChef system.

“TechnicalChef is the first system of licensing a chef in Australia,” the Institute’s website reads. “Legally chefs can practice in Australia without any form of license. However, TechnicalChef is an … industry driven license to use a logo to acknowledge minimum professional standards in education, training and practice.

“Chefs have a simple choice,” the website adds, “Continue as a chef and be known among the many vague and often misleading uses of the title. Alternatively, demonstrate the necessary attributes to be a TechnicalChef and show the public there are minimum standards in training and development to be a legitimate chef.”

In order to join the AITC and be regarded as a TechnicalChef, applicants are required to demonstrate the following:

  • Skills and experience – assessed by the amount of time spent gaining fundamental skills in a commercial kitchen – a minimum of six years or 12,000 hours.
  • Attitude – Assessed by the independent opinion of three industry referees, which may be improved by evidence of participation in career or self-development activities
  • Approved training – Minimum 1,000 technical training points
  • Self-development – The applicant must demonstrate a commitment to continuous self-improvement and must keep records of continuous improvement through education or industrial experiences while registered
  • Codes of Practice – must adhere to the Australian Culinary Codes of Practice.
  • Fees – $25 per year for the first two years.

Launched on 15 September, AITC comprises nine foundation members including Martin Probst (team leader for education, training and development at Les Toques Blanches), Andrew Wiskin (Chef de Cuisine  Castellos Hotel)  Raquel Townsend (executive catering manager at Warragul Sporting & Social Club) and Handi Susanto ( Sous Chef Spaghetti Tree Restaurant).

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