Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 9, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why JOEY Restaurant Group was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017):
- To help new hires prepare for the work environment, JOEY Restaurant Group created the "JOEY Campus" employee website, a virtual university featuring company information and training videos on dish and beverage preparation
- JOEY Restaurant Group manages a series of company-wide competitions to foster ongoing development including "Top Apprentice", the "League of Extraordinary Chefs" and "Culinary Passion" -- the company also maintains a Culinary Culture and Culinary Club with in-store competitions (dubbed "quick fire" and "black box" challenges), which challenge participants to make meals with unknown ingredients, and field trips to local suppliers to learn about the origins of their ingredients
- JOEY Restaurant Group supports the career aspirations of students in related disciplines through partnerships with local schools and organizations, recently providing an endowment of $10,000 to George Brown College for scholarships for culinary and hospitality students, and provides part-time work for first-year apprentices
JOEY Restaurant cooks up limitless possibilities
As the night sous chef at JOEY Restaurant Group's Calgary Chinook store, Kathleen Good performs multiple roles and wears multiple hats. She is responsible for ensuring that the 10-14 kitchen staff working under her are ready each night "to execute a flawless dinner service," as she puts it.
That is her immediate and daily challenge. Long-term, however, she's responsible for ensuring that everyone under her grows and develops. "There's no ceiling for anyone who wants to continue to develop and learn new things," says Good. "The possibilities are limitless and I haven't seen anything like it in any other organization where I've worked. If you're driving your personal development, management will support you."
The Vancouver-based chain, which operates 38 restaurants in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, California and Washington state, spends over $1 million a year on training and development, says Andrew Martin, Vice-President, Human Resources.
"Our position is that we want to spend zero dollars on recruitment," says Martin. "We want to develop and retain people. We've done all sorts of things to ensure that talented people don't want to leave."
JOEY manages a three-year apprenticeship program for chefs who are pursuing a Red Seal designation and several of its employees have earned Canadian Chef de Cuisine certificates - the top designation in the Red Seal program. The company also operates an 18- to 24-month Chef-In-Training program for cooks to gain the skills required to succeed in a world-class kitchen.
"Our goal is to leave you in a better position in your career than when you joined us," says Martin. "We're going to give you the skills, the experience and the education. We're not worried about people leaving. Our fear is people stagnating."
JOEY provides tuition assistance for employees who want to further their education, and the company has developed a unique partnership with Royal Roads University on Vancouver Island. Employees who complete a number of in-house training programs are eligible for admission to master's programs in business administration or coaching even if they do not hold bachelor's degrees.
JOEY also provides informal avenues for developing culinary excellence. Two years ago, the company took its head chefs to Italy. They toured Tuscany, Rome and Pompeii to experience authentic Italian cuisine and learn some of the country's culinary secrets.
JOEY chefs organize trips to expand culinary knowledge including local butcher shops so chefs and sous chefs can learn proper techniques for cutting meat. The company also runs competitions within stores and between stores to promote development and staff engagement.
For example, Black Box challenges take place within stores. Each participant is given a black box which contains a set of ingredients. Once they have opened their box, each competitor has to prepare a dish using only the contents.
"The Black Box challenges stimulate creativity," says Martin. "We create opportunities for our employees to learn, grow and express themselves."
Coaching is an integral element of the corporate culture at JOEY, and the company has developed a comprehensive approach in which those who move up are expected to coach their fellow employees.
"We're responsible for continuously developing our colleagues," says Good. "We're preparing food but it's not just about cooking. It's really a business school. You're learning how to run a restaurant. You're learning how to work with different people from all different kinds of backgrounds."