Transformation and Renewed Focus at Chef Works
Chef Works is Australia’s pre-eminent hospitality uniform supplier and a business that prides itself on achieving excellence in servicing the hospitality industry. The company has participated in Fine Food for many years and utilised its investment in creating even stronger relationships and taking the opportunity to meet old friends and new. Given the personal nature of the business, we spoke to Chef Works to touch base on their journey over the past two years.
There’s nothing as close to a Chef as their uniform, so Chef Works is literally close to the heart of Australian Chefs. The company is well known for its passion and respect for all hospitality staff, so the challenges of Covid19 were especially personal.
Chef Works Business Operations Manager, Mike Lyne, said although the issues of the past two years have been extraordinary, the business has emerged stronger than ever.
“Sometimes it takes a jolt to wake you up and make you sit back and recalibrate what is essential and what isn’t. It’s given us renewed focus,” said Mike.
“That first lockdown was a real shockwave; it hit the industry so hard, there was so much uncertainty and unknown that everything ground to almost a halt, it was the same for us.
“But I’m so proud of the team and the industry; we banded together really well, we became a united unit. In hindsight, it was a transformative time for us, and it showed that the company could face huge, unexpected problems, have to bend, and become flexible. As long as we focus on what and why we do what we do, we will come out together stronger,” said Mike.
Despite the business environment, Chef Works didn’t lose any staff because of the pandemic impact. Instead, the entire team dropped hours together and Chef Works’ owner removed his wages altogether to pay others.
“This year, I feel the effects of lockdown changed from uncertainty and fear to frustration and exhaustion,” said Mike. “We’ve tried to keep communication up throughout lockdown, ensuring that each manager regularly checks in with the team. We can’t service our customers properly if our colleagues are struggling, so it’s been a case of focusing internally as much as we can so that the team can feel strong and energised to get up and do their job each day,” he said.
Chef Works is a big supporter of groups such as The White Jacket Effect and Hospo for Life, advocating mental health in hospitality, plus OzHarvest and Plate it Forward. The business places great importance on its responsibility to protect the hospitality industry.
“Restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes are the social meeting points in life; look at how we’ve missed them during the lockdown,” said Mike. “We’ve all got the responsibility to protect the industry; it’s too important to society. We all need to appreciate the work that goes into preparing and cooking your meal, and don’t expect to pay $15 for a meal cooked by a professional Chef, served by wait staff, then cleaned away for you,” he said.
Chef Works is looking forward to showcasing newly acquired Bragard Australia which is known worldwide as the Ferrari of Chef and hospitality uniforms. In Fine Food Melbourne 2022, the company is excited to present this brand which has such a rich and respected history. The Bragard Grand Chef Jacket is the original classic double-breasted jacket and wearing the Bragard brand is a symbol of achievement and status.
“Much like the first time a Chef puts on their whites, wearing your first Bragard jacket is a moment that Chefs remember for the rest of their lives because it represents a milestone in their career. We’re honestly honored to represent the brand, and we’re so excited for it to launch in Australia in 2022,” said Mike.
With a prestigious new brand, and new collections to launch, 2022 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Chef Works who are looking forward to reuniting with the industry at Fine Food 2022.
“Especially after the last few years, it will just be lovely to see how everyone is. Chef Works has met some of our best friends at Fine Food, so we cannot wait to get back there,” said Mike.