Meal entrepreneurs – from party chefs to gourmet restaurateurs

Results from the project

Making Meals in Restaurants - Daily Practices and Professional Ideals

Improved Meal Offerings in Tourist Destinations Provided by Professional Practitioners

Lotte Welton, doctoral student studying meal science, Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Meal Science, Örebro University

What is the research project about?
“We will be investigating what it is like being a dining entrepreneur – particularly a female one – in a tourist destination, in this case on Öland, in order to learn more about what factors can contribute to success. The project is divided into two parts. In the first, we will be studying what it is like to be a dining entrepreneur nowadays and the conditions for this. In the second, we will be carrying out a historical look back and comparing today’s conditions with the conditions for party chefs and inn tenants in the 19th century and at the start of the 20th century. By looking at the historical perspective, we can better understand the development of the meal sector today and in the future. We will also investigate the transition of the cooking profession from a female to a male domain.”

What is a meal entrepreneur?
“We have defined this as someone who offers a meal in a room or in a location.”

How will you proceed?
“We are carrying out an ethnographic study including field studies, where we are present on site to follow and interview around ten meal entrepreneurs, mainly women. When it comes to the historical look back, we will study literature about the development of the meal and of cooking from the end of the 19th century onwards, as well as current research in this field. We will also analyse statistics and investigate archive material.”

How can the hospitality sector benefit from this research?
“The goal is for us to obtain knowledge about the conditions for meal entrepreneurs at a tourist destination. We hope to be able to identify general success factors that can provide answers as to why some entrepreneurs succeed better than others. The results can be used to develop the hospitality sector and will also be useful for public authorities, training organisers and other researchers.”

What is the main challenge?
“One initial challenge is to find suitable and willing companies to conduct the study on. We will be working closely with them, asking in-depth questions about their working and living conditions, their successes as well as their goals and visions. We are collaborating with the Culinary Academy, a regional knowledge centre and amalgamation of players that are working to promote gastronomic development and small-scale fine food in eastern Småland and Öland. They will be helping us with this work. In studies of this type, it is also a challenge to understand and describe the interviewee’s thoughts and reasonings adequately and to handle large amounts of complex data correctly.”

Describe yourself in brief:
“I am a behavioural scientist focusing on sociology. I started working in the restaurant sector as a 15-year-old and have had my own company in the meal sector for seven years. I have also worked as a home economics teacher and have devoted myself to research into cultural history. The project includes three other people.”

Project facts

Project

Meal entrepreneurs – from party chefs to gourmet restaurateurs

Research organization

Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Meal Science, Örebro University

Project Manager

Inger M. Jonsson, Associate Professor of Food Science

Members

Lotte Wellton, doctoral student studying meal science, Richard Tellström, ethnologist, D.Phil in meal science (assistant supervisor), Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Meal Science, Örebro University, and Ute Walter, D.Phil, meals science, Director, Umeå University School of Restaurant and Culinary Arts (assistant supervisor)

Period

Jan 2013 – Jan 2015

Amount

SEK 1,000,000

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Lotte Wellton

Lotte Welton

Doktorand

Foto: Lotte Wellton

Inger_M_Jonsson

Inger M Jonsson

Projektledare

Foto: Inger M Jonsson