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My views by George Hill.

George Hills 10 greatest contradictions in Commercial Cookery.

  1. Contradictions in media:
    – How is it possible that the Australian restaurant industry is widely promoted to be excellent and among the best in the world; when the average restaurant score in food guides across Australia in hundreds of restaurant evaluations is 13/20. Who would be happy if their children averaged 65% in a final year test?
    – Why do the public believe restaurant reviews will always reflect the quality of a restaurant experience?
    – How is it possible to be the “The best restaurant ““The chef”  “The best recipe”
    – Why do many people believe pictures of food in magazine or on menus come straight from the pot to the plate, without extreme sprucing?
  2. Contradictions in awards:
    – How can restaurant reviewers assess a restaurant purely on their experience of a single meal without ever considering attitudes, consistency, reliability, dress standards, hygiene, commercial success, and more?
    – How is it that chefs cited with “A Chefs Hat”, are not willing to wear one as a symbolic image of their vocation and award?
    – How is it that many of the very people who call for the abolition of penalty rates do not work on weekends?
  3. Contradictions with people who call themselves chefs (And even Executive Chefs):
    – How is it possible to be an apprentice chef, when chef is a position of responsibility, whilst an apprentice is learning to cook and graduates with a cookery qualification?
    – How can one be a “qualified chef” when a chef describes   a person’s authority and a cook identifies their expertise?
    – How is possible that chefs believe they are professionals, yet many attend functions looking like rag dolls with unironed clothes and dirty shoes, while supposedly being trained in grooming and hygiene.
    – How is it that a cooks/ chef’s occupation is viewed as fascinating, full of excitement, and adventure, yet they prepare the same dish, hour in hour out, day in day out often year in year out.
  4. General Contradictions: Why are the majority of great chefs not good at marketing themselves, but very skilled at cooking, while the majority of celebrity chefs are not good at cooking but very skilled at marketing.
    – How is it possible to train to be a qualified cook while being a vegetarian?
    – Why people who believe a chefs job are is only a practical one, and does not require a well-educated person, not aware the chefs cost menu, write memos, and need to understand legalisation.
    – Why do the media believe that every chef is an “Executive chef “without questioning their real role experience and responsibility?
    – How is it that one can be “The Chef of the year”, when only assessed on one day in clinical competition conditions?
    – How can it be that many cooks spoil the broth, when we have only chefs in the industry?
  5. Contradictions and menus:
    – Why do we have light meals on menus offering deep fried fish and chips?
    – How is it that decades ago, we understood that cookery is, and always will be an ever-changing industry; but we still roast chickens, boil spaghetti, grill steaks, bake ?
    – How many chefs who strongly support the environment do not check to see if the seafood they buy is on the endangered list?
  6. Contradictions  in food sold in local shops (LOL)::
    – How can one sell a chicken sausage schnitzel? –  This is also real
    – How can one advertise a chicken strudel that is even made with puff pastry?
    –  It is historically stated that that a chefs hat contains 100 pleats to indicate their skill by showing  the number of ways they  can cook an egg.

How does this mean that who  chefs do not wear a hat, cannot cook an egg.

Article: George Hill – Shortage of chefs – Why?

I responded to an article in Hospitality Magazine about the alarming shortage of people who seek to become apprentices and why?

This article unfortunately required a long-detailed response.

I know that I have a reputation of being “old school “and yes, I did start cooking nearly 62 years ago.

I know and acknowledge many in the modern culinary world would leave me for dead on a stove now as my last Kitchen Gig / appearance was a couple of years ago.

However, my career started in Haute- Classical (French) and touched – Nouvelle- Fusion – and many other styles and cultures.

There are a couple of very well-known Melbourne chefs with whom I have in very recent years (in fun) participated in joint events in their kitchen, mainly as “guest” gigs, and to their and the brigade amazement, was still able to deliver a quality experience.

In addition, yes, I can also use a sous vide machine and a smoke gun.

I believe I am adequately experienced in culinary education, authored a number of books and passionately kept up to date.

Even years after most others have curled up on bowling greens or gone walkabout. Even now, I discover that I often know more about the state of the nation than some young guns.

I also believe that Melbourne has some excellent chefs and restaurants. However, there is alarming evidence that commercial cookery is on a slippery slope.

In my opinion – The main issue here is not about skills but more about “attitude”.

I have often said Chefs “look in the mirror” and here are some reasons why to do so.

I realise, that I will be shouted down again about a long-term issue of mine, wearing a chef’s hat.

Symbols influence attitudes in all aspects of our culture, and I suggest the symbol of a chef’s hat impacts on the prestige of being a chef. A classic chef’s hat shapes the subconsciously opinion of the public of the value of being a chef, and reinforces the respectability of commercial cookery as a career.

Realise, subconsciously the Australian cookery industry lost a lot of respect and image by dropping a global symbol that identifies the wearer as a person who belongs to a unique trade.

A person proud to show they are a cook. Yes, we lost the branding of a chef and threw out the baby with the bathwater.

Consequently, subconsciously the young say, “What is my real role in society”?

Where is my badge of office that demonstrates my uniqueness and gains personal respect?

Who will respect me in the future?

Forget the many other material reasons why one should, or even should not wear one; and there are many good reasons on both sides. Just please seriously examine the “respect issue”.

What occurs in any kitchen is the chef’s domain, but when a chef appears in any public arena without a chef’s hat, it subconsciously destroys the perception of cookery as a respectable career and the public do not associate the person as an expert leading to a perception affects the whole industry.

The public do not see the unique difference between a chef and any other occupation. They may acknowledge an individual, but do not subconsciously associate the individual with the whole industry, so the uncapped chef may receive the kudos but the industry does not gain the same level of respectability.

Unfortunately, thoughtless schools’ administrators with an attitude to follow inferior industrial practice and not stand-up as leaders have swapped classical hats for caps in their classes, and by doing so foolishly endorsed the lowering of standards, accepted mediocrity, removed the very symbol that is admired globally and removed a suggestive credential and changed public attitudes.

I am highly honored to know some seriously great chefs and educators, but cannot understand why they do not see this flaw in their attitude.

The second point, that some will have some refusing to accept is about titles.

When we started calling apprentices cooks – apprentice chefs we took away a vital stage of development.

We removed an important difference of recognition, between naming a person who has eight- or eighteen-years’ experience and the trainee with only one.

We confused the public, gave creditability to the con artists, and developed a public perception that everyone who can peel a carrot or read a recipe is a legitimate chef.

The same principle applies up the brigade ladder. When anyone calls themselves an” executive chef” and technically not entitled to do so, they destroy the public’s understanding of chain of command and rightful recognition of position and responsibility.

They only demonstrate to peers they do not understand the equal status of Chef de cuisine, while wrongly believing that “Executive” has a higher status.

These common bad attitudes, promoted by a host of bad practices have encouraged the inexperienced media to use industry hype of images of chefs in kitchens without hats, companies who use clowns in their adverts, misuse of titles in articles, reviewers who really believe that a one meal experience is adequate evidence to evaluate a restaurant and more.

The third point which from experience below most will choose to ignore.

I wonder how many know that there is an official code of conduct for cooks and chefs, compiled and reviewed by over 80 chefs and culinary educators Australia wide, and endorsed by the major chefs’ associations over ten years ago.

Which after officially requesting and justifying on numerous occasions to state and national curriculum authorities for the codes be added to curriculum in first year of culinary training to improve young attitudes.

• Has this been done NO.?

• Has it even been examined NO?

• Have the peak restaurant associations actively promoted the codes to its members NO.?

• Do chefs’ associations actively promote the codes NO?

• Do teachers even know they exist I wonder how many?

• There is an Idiom: A fish goes bad from its head?

Then when we read employers stating they seek a second- or third-year apprentice because of their greater experience; meaning in reality they scrounge on someone else doing the hard investment in the first year, then poach, and burn him or her out.

• In addition, while probably leaving them to self-train and run the show, further often without a trained chef supervisor to advise and motivate.

I could continue to explore equally other appalling attitudes and industry practices, but these will take forever including:

• Exchanging fulltime career teachers with part timers on the pretext, they are more up to date. In some cases, yes, but more importantly many good chefs at the coal-face, do not have the experience to impart knowledge nor the passion required to teach.
• Blindly accepting that only current industry practices should form curriculum content and overlooking the principle of walking a fine line between reflecting industry practice, teaching common techniques that are the foundation of the trade and leading industry practice by being a role model.
• Additionally, Chefs who believing that if its taught at school, it does not need industry rehearsal, because of the invalid view that competency gained at school is the same level of skill to be industry competent.

Still we all have to remember; it is also a supply and demand issue.

When the cookery industry gets ugly enough and unable to find sufficient people will the public begin to realise the whole story:

• Burnout.
• Declining enthusiasm to be a chef
• TV shows do not reflect industrial conditions,
• One cannot fail even in a competency model and more will the pendulum swing in the opposite direction.

Someone has to say it.

Some will not be able to see the points, but there again; I am from the old school

However, I can remember:

• I was able to ask questions of my teachers and exchange conversations without using profane language in the sentence.
• We believed that our chef was god who was always right and knew that even when wrong he/she was right.
• Failing a test was actually bad, and no one worried that telling me that I had failed might hurt my feelings and psychologically damage me for life.
• We not only used numerous technical terms to communicate in a kitchen, but others in the kitchen actually understood them.
• We did not wear baseball caps in a kitchen, nor would we have worn them backwards to keep the sunlight off the neck while on the stove.
• Celebrities were real people who were famous for exceptional acting skills, while now many celebrities become famous for trying to act as an exceptional chef.
• Cooking, cookery and cook were used to describe the job, while cheffery and cheffing is now used by inexperience and the uneducated.

Moreover, Ice was made only from water.

Wow- How right you are – I am old school. But with an attitude I am proud of.

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