Empowering Aspiring Chefs to Thrive in North Macedonia’s Culinary Industry

Recipe for Success: Cooking Skills, Soft Skills, and an Entrepreneurial Mindset

With aprons on and utensils in hand, ten young aspiring chefs eagerly immersed themselves in the art of cooking during a five-day Master Culinary Training in North Macedonia. As aromatic spices wafted through the air, training participants sharpened their cooking skills and learned about food nutrients, organic growing practices, menu development, and the kitchen brigade system.

Led by chefs from FJ Culinary School and supported by the USAID Youth Actively Create Opportunities Activity implemented by IESC, the training went beyond teaching cooking techniques. It placed equal importance on nurturing soft skills, fostering entrepreneurial spirit, and offering personalized career guidance, shaping aspiring chefs into well-rounded professionals.

“We worked with young aspiring chefs who are yet to jumpstart their careers and during the training we gave them an idea of what gastronomy looks like in practice, so that they don’t make the same mistakes we did,” said Filip Chalovski, Executive Chef and Founder of FJ Culinary School. “Equipping young people with a comprehensive skill set is paramount in enabling them to secure appealing, well-paid jobs and thrive in the fiercely competitive culinary industry.”

Individual career counseling sessions proved instrumental in offering participants tailored guidance, empowering them to make informed decisions about their future career paths. Trainers identified each participant’s distinct strengths and aspirations, engaging in insightful discussions about job opportunities and sharing valuable industry trends. Guest speakers, including accomplished chefs, shared their experiences to spark the participants’ creativity and expand their culinary horizons.

“Unless you try, you won’t know which career field to choose and how to succeed. This way, you’ll see whether something fits your aspirations and if it’s something that you would love doing for the rest of your life,” said Jovana Ilieva, one of the trainees.

In North Macedonia, many young people are unable to find jobs that meet their expectations, while businesses face challenges in attracting qualified youth. The USAID Youth Actively Create Opportunities Activity aims to bridge this gap by collaborating with youth and companies to establish partnerships for better economic opportunities.

“With training such as this one, our goals are two-fold: firstly, to empower young people by equipping them with the skills highly sought after in today’s job market, and secondly, to support businesses to access a pool of talented youth who possess the relevant competencies needed for success in their respective sectors,” said Nebojsha Mojsoski, Chief of Party of the Activity.

Training participants emerged as better skilled culinary professionals ready to thrive in the industry. Some are expected to secure appealing jobs in restaurants, while others might embark on entrepreneurial journeys.

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