The FINANCIAL — Finding good cooks is the main problem and challenge for restaurants as well as hotels in Georgia, their representatives claim.
There are too few good, native professional cooks. Almost all Georgian women are good cooks at home but they aren’t professional enough cooks for restaurants. The role of a cook is not only cooking (as the title suggests) but a head chef also has to be a good manager and have leadership skills. There are, however, a few adequate colleges in the country that train cooks and head chefs.
“Currently we only have one foreign cook in our hotels, the rest of them are Georgians, including our Executive Chef,” said David Kipiani, HR Director at Tbilisi Marriott Hotel. “But generally there is an issue in finding qualified cooks in Georgia, especially with those with experience in European Cuisine.”
“There really exists a problem with cooks in Georgia,” said Marika Gachechiladze, Executive Chef at Tbilisi Marriott Hotel. “But on the other hand, the new generation is quite talented and serious about the profession.”
Holiday Inn Tbilisi had a foreign head chef when the hotel starting operating. But now the Georgian head chef, as well as the entire kitchen staff, is Georgian.
“Food has an essential role in the development of the tourism and service sectors,” said Iva Davitaia, CEO of Adjara Group, managing Holiday Inn. “Food is a critically important component while using any tourism product. Tourists pay a lot attention to cuisine when choosing a country to visit. Therefore good cooks significantly support tourism.”
“Georgia is striving to become a big tourist destination and therefore Georgian cooks have to meet lots of international standards,” he stated. “This standard contains lots of factors including safety of production, rules of keeping eating materials, regulations of preparing these materials, hygiene, serving etc. The most widespread food safety standard is HACCP. There are some other food safety standards as well. So unfortunately being able to cook a good Khachapuri simply isn’t enough to be a good cook. Giving trainings, founding special colleges and constant retrainings are the main factors that will result in Georgia having ‘good cooks’.”
Tamuna Lomtatidze, General Director of GMC, says that the only good college training cooks in the country is Icarus.
Icarus has had courses for cooks since 2007 when the college was founded.
“Food plays a big role in tourism development and currently the development of tourism is one of the country’s main strategies. Therefore we decided to provide cook’s courses,” said Tea Kavtaradze, Assistant of the Director of Icarus. “Demand is very high as we have about 200 graduates annually.”
The course has three steps: the first lasts 4 months, the second – 4 months, and the third – 8 months. The total cost of the course is 1,400 GEL.
M Group also had its own college, but it stopped operating. Nino Mamaladze, PR manager of M Group, told The FINANCIAL that they are now undergoing reorganization of the college.
“Our cook’s course was quite in demand and people still ask us about it now,” Mamaladze said. “All our cooks have the highest qualifications but still Georgia has a problem with cooks. Therefore we opened this college.”
“Being a cook must become as prestigious a profession in Georgia as it is abroad,” Tamuna Lomtatidze, General Director of GMC, told The FINANCIAL. “Beginner cooks have to have the ambition to become professional chefs and later found their own restaurants. This is the way cooks develop abroad. People have to believe that they can become rich and successful if they study cookery.”
“In my opinion, the consolidation of power of different hotels and restaurants is essential to have home-grown cooks of international standards,” Iva Davitaia explained.