Failte Ireland tweeted this morning about the great news that 190 New Chefs have just finished a ten week training course and are about to be welcomed into the industry. This is good news indeed and I am sure that restaurants all over the country will be lining up for this new enthusiastic talent.
Having just reread this article by Rene Redzepi reflects on his bad behaviour in the Kitchen and left wondering at an industry which is, possibly for the first time in it’s noble history in a real crisis for chefs. Working alongside a chef last week as we tested some new recipes together, a few things struck me. We were preparing to introduce some new recipes which we both felt would work well for the restaurant. It quickly became apparent that it was going to be much more difficult than it should be. The wrong equipment, lack of basic kitchen tools, badly designed space, items across the kitchen or in another kitchen, instead of being to hand and NO HOT WATER. ‘ How long have you been without hot water?’ ‘ I asked, ‘ about two weeks, we can’t get hold of the plumber.’ Are you serious, no hot water in a kitchen which is serving several hundred people a day?
He had no gas ring in his baking kitchen so had to run back and forward to the main kitchen any time he required either hot water or a gas ring. And the industry wonders why it can’t get or keep chefs?
Much has been written on the subject of bad behaviour in the restaurant kitchens of the world. Antony Bourdain spilled the beans on the ugly side of the trade. Gordon Ramsay followed up by confirming all the worst fears of culinary hopefuls with tantrums, screaming tirades and all round spectacularly outrageous behaviour in the kitchen – perhaps it was for the cameras but why oh why?
So, here is a plea to the restaurants who will welcome this new young eager talent. Be kind.
Give a proper induction i.e. introduce them to everyone as a new much welcomed member of the team. Give them a proper uniform. Give them all the tools they need to do the job. Tell them clearly what is expected from them. Do not expect them to work 12 hours a day and then thank you for the pleasure of doing so. Give them clear instructions ( preferably written) and an order of work for the day. Give them their roster at least a week in advance. Give them breaks and a calm space to take those breaks. Give them courtesy, honesty, gratitude and clear guidelines. Give them an opportunity to grow with you and your business and be proud of that achievement.
These new recruits are a fragile gift to the industry. A little kindness in the kitchens of Irish Restaurants will go a long way to nurturing that talent and keeping it there.