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|My views by George Hill.
George Hills 10 greatest contradictions in Commercial Cookery.
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.
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:
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.
Moreover, Ice was made only from water.
Wow- How right you are – I am old school. But with an attitude I am proud of.