14 of Estonia's top chefs have offered to mentor new and enthusiastic cooks in a bid to inspire the next generation of culinary enthusiasts.
Currently, Estonia has a huge shortage of young, up and coming chefs. Peeter Pihel, chef at Tallinn's Fotografiska restaurant, which received a green Michelin star earlier this year for its dedication to sustainable gastronomy, is set to be one of the mentors on the new program,
Pihel told current affairs show "Ringvaade Sommer," that he believes more could be done to teach young people in Estonia about career opportunities in the culinary sphere.
Pihel stressed that for young chefs to succeed, the most important thing is determination and that you don't necessarily have to be talented in your home kitchen to make it in the culinary world.
Killu Maidla, head of the Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association, had expected that top chefs would take some persuading in order to secure their participation in the mentoring scheme. However, to her surprise, many were more than keen to get involved.
According to Maidla you can learn to be a chef in any number of establishments, but that doesn't automatically bring high numbers of new staff to restaurants. Most of the time, people learn to cook, almost, by chance, with several examples of top chefs who have undergone little to no formal training. It is hoped that the mentoring initiative will lead to an increase in the number of high-quality chefs willing to fill positions in Estonian restaurants.
"The last few years have not been the best for Estonian chefs, who are having a harder time than (those working in) other sectors," said Maidla. "A lot of good restaurants have closed down. As a result, chefs have learnt new trades and moved on to new challenges and we need to find new chefs to replace them," she added.
Pihel added that it is important for chefs to have a passion for their work, something which he hopes to convey to the young chefs he works with on the mentoring scheme. "Chefs need to enjoy what they do and enjoy coming to work," Pihel said. "The most important thing in a leadership role is (providing) motivation."
Editor: Michael Cole