Sustainable Futures with Alaska Seafood part six: Rik Razza, head of chef development, BaxterStorey

14 December 2018 by
Sustainable Futures with Alaska Seafood part six: Rik Razza, head of chef development, BaxterStorey

For Alaska Seafood, sustainability doesn't just relate to fish. It's about creating a sustainable workforce, attracting new talent and promoting the industry as a great place to work.

Over the next four months, Alaska Seafood will be unearthing the future stars of the hospitality industry. In part six, we meet Rik Razza, head of chef development at foodservice provider BaxterStorey

What is your job and what does the role entail?
I am the head of chef development within BaxterStorey, and I run the BaxterStorey Chef Academy with a great team. The role gives me the privilege of developing chefs in their practical and theoretical culinary growth throughout the company and at all levels in and out of the kitchen.

The team and I deliver modern chef apprenticeships for commis and chef de partie levels, while the sous chefs, head chefs and chef managers have the opportunity to complete a two-year internal development programme delivered with chef John Campbell and myself.

The chef development team has a bespoke training and development plan that focuses on delivering a positive working environment within our kitchens.

How did you get involved in this industry?
I suppose I was born into it. My father worked for a large hotel and restaurant company and we lived above one of their five-star restaurants. I was constantly down in the kitchens, watching what the chefs were doing, being amazed at the plates of food, fascinated with the pace and energy, being asked to
taste different ingredients and getting hands-on. There was only one route to go and that was into the kitchen.

What do you love about it?
There are two things I love. First, the people. The kitchen was always a family to me; you create bonds and friendships that you could rely on and trust. You had a group of people with one aim and passion: to create the best dining experience for the customer with the ingredients that arrived at the kitchen door.

Second, the ingredients. That buzz that you get when you have quality produce that allows you to be creative and express yourself through skill and technique to create plates of food that challenge all the senses.

What do you find challenging?
Chefs with a lack of desire to achieve within their chosen career. You should be proud to be a chef; it is an amazing career and a fantastic life. Every morning you should be inspired to create something new. Respect the opportunity you have, grasp it with both hands and achieve greatness within that.

Who was your biggest icon growing up and who inspired this career choice?
So, this is a difficult one, as there have been a few, but it must be my dad. His attention to detail to make his customers feel part of his restaurant as if it was his own home was quite inspirational. As a young chef working in his restaurant I used to marvel at his customer service and his drive and passion to ensure that the kitchen was fully involved in this journey. He cooked a mean pasta fagioli as well.

Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
Helping people to raise awareness so they can reach their fullest potential. However, we can only impact the here and now.

Who knows what will happen tomorrow, so seize every moment and be great within that moment.

What advice would you give to those trying to break into this industry?
Choose your first job wisely. Research the kitchen and the team you are going to work in, and make sure it has a positive environment that will allow you to flourish and develop. We lose too many good people across this industry through bad experiences, poor leadership and non-existent development.

Our job is the best in the world. Once you have tasted the best it can offer, you will be hooked.

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