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When Covid-19 brought the restaurant industry to a grinding halt, 21-year old Lavr Kozlov, a Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland alumnus, left his head chef position at a restaurant in Austria, to return to his home city of Moscow. When he realised restaurants wouldn’t be opening anytime soon, he came up with a creative new business plan: an online cooking course called “Chef’s Voice”.
What is the idea behind “Chef’s Voice”?
It’s a two-week video course where I teach participants basic cooking techniques and how to improvise in the kitchen by following their intuition. The idea is that they learn to use any ingredient they find in their fridge or pantry, and cook something on the spot, without following a recipe. Participants receive a syllabus with almost 100 pages of recipes and instructions, as well as support from a team that is available to answer questions along the way using different online tools, such as a messaging platform that is very popular in Russia. You can find out more on the website.
What inspired you to launch this course?
When I first came home after the lockdown, I spent a couple of weeks developing myself through different online courses. When I realised I might have to stay home for a longer period of time, I got inspired by the courses I had been doing and thought, why not offer something online as well?
I also wanted to help people find ways to save money, especially as many are unable to work due to the current situation: by using ingredients they already have, they don’t have to go and purchase items they wouldn’t normally use. I also teach them techniques that save them money, for example it is much cheaper to debone a whole chicken, than buying separate parts. Cooking at home is also cheaper than ordering takeaway and gives people something meaningful to do during lockdown. Cooking and eating together is something that connects people.
How did studying at Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland equip you to succeed?
I was brought up in an education system where you were given the answers and then told how to arrive at this answer. At Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland, on the other hand, I learned how to ask my own questions and come to the answer on my own, with the help of teachers. I learned how to think for myself.
Also, at Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland, I didn’t just learn how to cook, but I also learned a lot about business and hospitality.
What do you think are important qualities for an entrepreneur?
Knowing how to manage a team is important, because you can’t rule the ship alone. In the same way a good chef does not operate on their own in the kitchen, a good entrepreneur knows how to delegate to people who will be more skilled at certain aspects of a project.
You also need to be able to adapt because the world is changing constantly. It’s also important to be stubborn so that you can overcome challenges and to not be afraid of making mistakes, because they will strengthen you. This is the main thing for an entrepreneur: don’t be afraid.
You are still very young, how have you been able to gain this much experience so quickly?
Honestly, sometimes you just find yourself on the right path. It’s like being in a wave of doing things and possibilities open up. Of course, hard work also pays off, and I’ve also realised how important it is to have connections in the culinary world.
There is no magic pill for success: there is always more to do, to develop yourself or develop your business. I see all the areas I want to grow in, and not only professionally-speaking. You never know how and where you will be able to use the skills you acquire, so educate yourself in different areas.
Learn more from Lavr’s experience and expertise by signing up for this webinar:
Learn How to Become a Successful Entrepreneur - Few hoteliers have led such a busy and entrepreneurial life like Mr César Ritz. César had all the characteristics of a great leader; we will share his success stories and how you can use his skills to develop the entrepreneur in you. Our alumni Lavr Kozlov will also join the session to give you his insight into what it takes to become a successful restaurateur.
Presented by Tanja Florenthal, Academic Director of César Ritz Colleges Switzerland, and Delphine Blin Genin, Lecturer at César Ritz Colleges Switzerland, on 15th May 2020
Sign up here.