Dish of the Day: Chefs of today
I remember when chefs worked for a restaurant because they wanted to cook, learn and grow. These past few weeks I’ve seen a few chefs moving on, not turning up, not caring. It seems to be a growing trend.
It’s a difficult situation because you don’t want bad eggs on your team. But, still, it’s a nightmare trying to find staff these days. What really grates against me the most is lack of loyalty, though. Loyalty is the bedrock of a good kitchen team. And it’s often an absent virtue nowadays. And that’s even if you bend over backwards to help someone get a job, find somewhere to stay.
Of course unexpected things happen in life, but when someone gives you two weeks’ notice, then the next day (2pm in the middle of lunch service) they tell you that they have plans and need to go that very second, that hurts.
Fewer and fewer chefs I meet do a full 12-month stint in a restaurant, which used to be the norm. Chefs of all levels too. A transient work culture now exists in the restaurant kitchen like never before. If people want to move on for few pennies extra and have a five-month job on their CV, it is up to them. But all too often, people just disappear, don’t have the balls to say they’re going.
The amount of people I could name and shame in the industry is huge, and these are ‘real chefs’, mostly British, who would once have ridiculed people for doing that very thing.
When I was training in London at 16, I was terrfied I’d get fired, as there was always a stack of CVs ready to be hired. Now that’s not the case, head chefs are now in a position to be bullied into keeping bad eggs, or being lenient on standards and punctuality.
Personally, though, I’d happily work 120 hours a week if I need to send someone home who thinks they can poison the team spirit or rock up an hour late smiling – which maybe explains why I’m forever cancelling plans and letting people down.
It has to be said mind you, that there are still some phenomenal hard workers who make kitchens tick, without them we’d be nowhere, dinnerless. I just wish they’d start breeding.
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