Kenny Atkinson has been awarded two coveted Michelin stars, as well as winning the Chef of the Year at the Catays and winning the BBC TV series, Great British Menu, two years running. This phenomenal record makes Kenny one of the most highly respected chefs in the country. Although this all sounds very impressive, what insights can business leaders gain from a world class chef?
It is fair to say that Kenny Atkinson’s skill extends way beyond his ability to cook wonderful food. At the first Be World Class Conference in 2011, he explained that producing Michelin star quality food is a team game. Kenny knows that his entire team, from the kitchen porter who cleans the dishes, through to the front of house team, all need to deliver exceptionally high quality.
In his words, “You’re only as good as the team behind you… You have to train the guys and rely on the guys. We set a standard, hit that standard and then keep raising it”.
In order to deliver this standard consistently, Kenny has become an expert at LEADERSHIP.
During his session, entitled “On… Standards”, Kenny described how he recruits and develops his people. He explained what he looks for when he selects new team members, and gave business leaders a fascinating insight into the way he invests in his team.
“We can improve their skills, so we recruit on attitude”.
“I work with my team one-on-one, in the trenches. I won’t ask one of my guys to do a job that I won’t do myself”.
Kenny constantly challenges his team to develop new skills and raise their level of delivery. He deliberately develops each team member, to ensure that they have a very broad base of skills and have the ability to be adaptable. Kenny also outlined how he works hard to foster team members that have a passion for what they do and a love for the business.
“Our chefs will eat in the restaurant so that they understand the guest experience. It helps them to understand why the meat has to be carved in a certain way... It helps them to take real pride in what they do”.
The end result is that he has cultivated the two ingredients that he considers most crucial to his success; teamwork and passion.
As the business leaders of the North East discovered, the principles that Kenny uses within his restaurant can easily be applied to any business. Kenny’s session at this year’s Be World Class Conference is sponsored by Benfield Motors, who have already started to adopt the principles directly.
You can find out more by reading How To Shine, watching Kenny’s session on Be World Class TV, or even gain a unique insight for yourself by attending his session (entitled ‘On… The Journey’) at this year’s Be World Class Conference.