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  • Inspiring UK Chefs Since 2015

    Starting in 2015, Unichef is the UK’s National Union for Chefs.  It is a Not-for-Profit Social Enterprise run completely by Chefs, the aim of the union is to support and understand the issues that many chefs are faced with in today's hectic kitchens, and to understand the many changes that are needed within our industry to raise Culinary Professionalism for the betterment of all chefs regardless of their position, category, age, ethnicity, or gender.

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  • “Not just a Union, but a Philosophy for the future”
     

  • Current Articles

    • The "seedy" side of a Michelin Star
      We knew it would not be long before we get a Michelin Chef into court and now we have a date set.

      On June 25th 2024 a well known ( self publicist ) Chef in Soho London will be before the courts owing our member and others many thousands of pounds in wages and entitlements.

      This vile man has spent millions on refurbing his Restaurant,the best of crockery ,the best of cutlery and tableware the very finest decor,all in his narcissistic quest for "Michelin Gold" and all on the backs of his staff and his creditors.

      He is without doubt the most obnoxious person this Union has ever had to deal with and we cannot wait to get this court order against him and finally show to the world the very seedy side of Michelin dining.

      How so many Michelin Chefs are up to their neck in debt and struggle to pay their way and are in fact running their business insolvently and against the law and whilst diners happily scoff their Cuisine Miniscule"and gulp their Dom Perignon oblivious to a young family in London with a baby who is owed more than £10,000 and who have struggled to pay for simple necessities.

      Unichef has never exposed any employer before and this will be the first but have no doubt we WILL EXPOSE this chef and let the world see exactly what has been going on Michelin kitchens for many years.The amount of stress and worry this family has had to endure in the name of Michelin is simply appalling and when our industry scratches its head wondering where all of the staff have gone to we have to believe that the problems we have been complaining about for so long are there right in front of our eyes every single day.

       
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    • Quality jobs needed to inspire recruitment.
      This week, a figure in the industry has said what Unichef has been saying for many years.

      Chantal Wilson from NQ64 Bars in London has rightfully said that the industry doesn't have a "recruitment" problem but in fact has a major Job issue in that the very quality of work is stopping people from looking towards Hospitality as a career choice.

      So, how do we bring quality to work and what can employers do to solve the issues once and for all?

      We have said for years that employers need to build into their employment work ethics and moral attitudes of fairness and flexibility,  Our "hit list" would include...


      1, An end to one sided and "cut and paste” contracts.

      2. An end to inflexible work patterns, i.e. split shifts, AFD and every weekend shifts unless such work is enhanced.

      3. Unbiased and independent HR representation

      4, More high-quality recruitment with qualifications gained being recognised and rewarded.

      5, A “Zero Tolerance” to Drugs and substance abuse with mandatory drug testing in all kitchens.

      6. A return to “time served” management who know and understand traditional and established work practices and less “graduate” based management structures who only follow the corporate role and put profitability before all else.

      7.Legislated maximum"trial periods"

      All well and good having good intentions and ideas, putting them into practice is another thing?
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    • 2024 bullying survey
      Due to the increased levels of complaints we have received recently we thought we would put this one out to all our members and and followers.It's been ages since we did a survey so let's crack on with this one.



       





      We believe that bullying in kitchens is still a major issue in Uk kitchens but we would really like you views.





      All of our surveys have always been really popular and we expect this one to be massive.

      The survey is anonymous and you will not be identified in any way



       





      Just click on this Link below to start the survey.



       






      https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SRLW8C

       

       

      many thanks and stay safe.




       
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    • Justice for Chef G
      Finally we can now tell you the full story of Chef G and her amazing fight for justice.

      olving but male pride and male dominance of the company and kitchen meant that their egos were more important to them than common sense,in reality it could have all been sorted over a cup of tea and bunch of flowers...  not a good way to run a business you might think?

      Every day for the last year we have supported, encouraged and inspired Chef G to her successful claim,  we never stopped believing in her case and her amazing fight for justice,  she is a truly remarkable and inspiring woman and it has been a total pleasure to have her as our member.Her courage has inspired everyone around her and will now act in encouraging more women to come forward and seek justice for how they are treated at work and what she has done will be remembered here at Unichef for many years to come.


      Unichef has shown once again that justice for UK chefs is very possible. Our chefs have a strong and powerful Union that is prepared to stand up and fight for their rights and success is there for those that seek it.

       

       
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    • The VAT squabble
      Yet again more calls for a cut in VAT for the Hospitality industry but once again the Chancellor isn't buying it ..but why ?

      Government thought shave always been that ours is a "luxury" industry.If people do with less giong out and pubs and Restaurants struggle or even quit,then it no big loss,the industry can well manage with less and the jobs will be absorbed into other things.

      Its believed that a VAT cut for Hospitality would indeed be more harmful to the UK economy than helpful to the industry.

      The "eat our to help out" scheme proved this and the Economy has yet to recoup billions given in Furlough during the pandemic" a lot of which was fraudulently applied for by unscrupulous pubs and restaurant owners.

      Therefore the Government isn't rushing into giving more help for an Industry that has squandered support in the past.

      As Unchef has said all along,that the industry really is too big,with too many mediocre pubs and restaurants,churning out mediocre food,too many "brands" too many "filling stations" out to make a quick buck,too many that treat staff badly,pay poorly and overwork to exhaustion.

      We have said consistently that the Industry needs to look at itself in the mirror and face the challenges that is in front of them and realise that a cut in VAT would only be a "sticking plaster"over a huge wound that has opened up since the Pandemic.We knew it was always going to be this way so why couldn't they see it ?
       

      Quarter of hospitality businesses have no cash reserves, study finds

      WWW.THECATERER.COM




      A quarter of hospitality businesses have run out of money are trading in a perilous state according to a new report.





       
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    • T.O.I.L and trouble ?
      Lately, we have a series of members complaint all involving TOIL.( Time off in Lieu) With members wishing to know their legal rights revolving around time owing to them though overtime worked.

      The answer is quite simple…you have almost NO rights at all where TOIL is concerned as it is a “gentleman’s” agreement between the employer and employee and there are currently no laws that govern TOIL, it is in fact a civil contact between 2 parties, difficult and expensive to prove in court.

      Occasionally there may be a written agreement but even then it can get quite complex and often you will find that the employer will dig in their heels, and still refuse you the time off that you are owed, and there is little you can do about it.

      So what is the answer to TOIL?

      TOIL works fine when it suits BOTH parties and there is an honesty between you but be very very weary of complex time controlled systems that monitor each and every hour that you work over your time and NEVER be in position where substantial amounts of time are ever owed to you or enter into a contract where TOIL is closely monitored.

      Our advice will always be this. Stay in control of what is owed to you in TOIL and never be owed more than your kitchen can easily give you back without employing another chef to do your job.

      TOIL is one of the few things that is still unregulated so please be very careful with what is owed to you.
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    • Roux's stand against bullying
      Well, at last someone of renown has finally had the guts to come out and tell it like it is?

      Well done to Michel Roux Jr for at long last acknowledging what Unichef has been saying since 2015 and that bullying has ruined our industry and profession to the extent that it's affected the provision of chefs coming into the Hospitality sector and not only chefs but waiters and others staff also.
      “We want the next generation of chefs to fall in love with this industry, not to hate it.” He says, but it seems still staying shy of just why Marco and Ramsay became so tyrannical after being at Le Gavroche.

      Indeed, William Sitwell himself is slightly perplexed at having to leave that conversation for another time?


      As Unichef prepares to battle in the Courts again over yet another bullying Chef,  hopefully slowly but surely chefs are beginning to realise that the bawling and shouting of bullying behaviour is at last beginning to fade and that a Court Trial for unfair dismissal isn’t the way to run your kitchen ?

       

       

      Having a bully for a boss isn’t pleasant – but it certainly livens things up

      WWW.TELEGRAPH.CO.UK




      With the closure of Le Gavroche, Michel Roux Jr called for the end of aggressive kitchen environments. But do we sometimes need conflict?






       
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    • What is  "workplace coercive control"
      (C) Workplace Coercive Control occurs when someone intentionally targets an employee(s) to injure, damage or destroy their presence in the workplace. This usually consists of a campaign of terror until the perpetrator(s) underhandedly forces and ends the targets working life.

      So,we've all been there for sure, that one person who just HAS to have the final say no matter how stupid or unreasonable it is,but why? what is all the fuss about and just why are they intent on "power trippin" ? 

      Coercive Control is a growing phenomenon,some people describe it as "gaslighting" but in fact it is a subtle but very dangerous form of mind control that is designed to weaken your resolve and demean you to level of subordination.You will find that this behavior often stems from their homelife and they will often have a history of intimidation within their family,often abusing their spouses and children.


      Nasicism in its extreme,where the perpetrator not only doesn't care,but doesnt even realise the damage and hurt they are doing,and that damage can be very damaging indeed and very long lasting also.

      They often put constant pressure upon you to agree with them or think and act as they would want you to,but it often them having that "final word" which is the telling point.You will also find that these people may well have been involved in other conflicts such as a

       
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    • January 2024 Newsletter
      New Director For Unichef

      This month Brendon Ireland Joins us as Culinary Director.

      Brendon is head of the National College of Hospitality and will oversee the future training and development of Unichef members and support them in their culinary ambitions.He has huge experience and a massive thirst for inspiring talent so go to the Food Forum on our website and connect with him today.

       

      HMRC …one more try

      Once again we will be given it another go,hopefully in the next month, to try and get our members an exemption of their fees and have it reimbursed through your tax as a legitimate tax relief.We are amazingly close so fingers crossed we are successful this time.

       


       

      Another win for Unichef

      This month we did battle in the courts again,this time on behalf of a young chef owed money by his thieving employer.We won and the chef was awarded £2300.

      This is just one of the many cases of “wages theft” that Unichef is currently involved in,
      Stand up and Speak out if you are owed money by your employer and we can help get in touch now.


       

      New Food Forum

      Our new Food Forum starts this month with Unichef Culinary Director Brendon Ireland  and gives our members the opportunity to interact and learn from other chefs,so come along and have your say..open 24/7 on our website.

       

      New Partners

      wow ! we have been busy, just look at our new amazing partners....

       

      National College of Hospitality




       

      Inspire the Future




      Home - Inspiring The Future

      WWW.INSPIRINGTHEFUTURE.ORG




      What we do Why it works





      North East Autistic Society




      North East Autism Society

      WWW.NE-AS.ORG.UK




      North East Autism Society





       

      Kitchen Knives  since 1899




      Professional Kitchen Knives at the UK's Best Prices - Established in 1899 - KitchenKnives.co.uk - KitchenKnives.co.uk

      WWW.KITCHENKNIVES.CO.UK










       
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    • The Good Work Plan ( update )
      In 2021 we heralded the Government’s plan to upgrade much of the Current Employment Legislation.

      The Good Work Plan was the brainchild of Mathew Taylor and out of almost 50 Recommendations the current Conservative government had accepted the vast majority of them.

      Sadly because of the Pandemic and the slow return to Preliminary pace much of this has been delayed.

      However the good news is that a whole range of draft legislation is going though Parliament as we speak and whilst we still have along way to go there is some great news for those who always said nothing ever changes in our profession.

      Here is a brief look at some of the changes that will affect chefs in the UK.

      Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill

      A Private Members’ Bill to give workers and agency workers the right to request more predictable terms and conditions of work.

      The Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons and is due to be considered by the House of Lords shortly. It is being backed by the Government, so is likely to come into effect at some point if that remains the case.

      This is MASSIVE for the Industry and will give those on Zero-hour Contracts may now have the right to be given a a more predictable contract according to their history of work. In other words, if a after a period of time (to be determined) you have worked standard 20-40-hour week (or applicable) you will be able to request a predictable contract based of your history of work. The new law will also allow you to continue on a Zero option if so preferred.


      This will also apply to those shifts that traditionally get cut in the middle of a shift due to lack of business, in future if your rostered for 8 hours your employer must honour that also unless you have a flexible arrangement that adds up to your contracted hours at the end of the week.

       









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    • Are things getting better ??
      oops...in the news again hahaha..

       





      Great article by Sammy Gecsoyler in today's Guardian about Michelin Restaurants and how they ( the few ) are changing their ways to be more "chef friendly",forgetting the fact that they have HAD to do this to keep chefs ?

       





      Those contributing seem to think that all the bad points in the industry have been miraculously erased and that we no longer suffer discrimination,bullying,harassment,prejudice,wages theft and wrongful dismissal etc etc !!

       





      I gave my opinion on what they have said,but what do you say..are they right or are they still living in a" Michelin Bubble"
       





      would love your thoughts as always please...

       







      New generation of UK chefs taking the heat out of the kitchen | Restaurants | The Guardian

      WWW.THEGUARDIAN.COM




      A work-life balance may have been unheard of in high-end kitchens in the past, but restaurants are now having to make changes





       
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    • Closing time..for good?
      The news that there are now less than 100,000 pubs left in the UK is of no big surprise to us here at Unichef.

      As we predicted time and again this one time leisure pursuit for millions is massively outdated.The younger generation simply do not fit into the demographics of "publife" and many see spending their money on other items much more important than having a drink which is so often overpriced.

      Whilst, for the time being at least, there will still be a vibrant trade in City Center drinking,traditional pubs and those on housing estates ( the locals ) are the ones that with a poor future ahead.

      There are many reasons,and all of them are relevant but at the end of the day,pubs are about selling beer and food and people no longer want beer and food in the form that is offered in pubs.

      That and the massive shortage of cheap unskilled staff who are the mainstay of many pubs,has led to the way things are now.

      Pubs have always been of high issue for Unichef. If we ever have Chefs with work related issues a large proportion of them will be working in pubs,that's a fact.They are heavily understaffed,poorly maintained,often badly managed and very often massively in debt and many struggle on a day to day basis.

      Working in a pub,is without any doubt the very hardest part of our profession,with very little thanks or reward for the massive efforts that devoted staff put in.

      So,our next prediction ??

      In your lifetime you will see the end of pubs as you know them,only the very very best will survive and only then by investment and a better business attitude towards their core staff.We will shed no tears or worry about the future of jobs as maybe it is time to "call time" on a poorly regulated industry.
       



      WWW.THECATERER.COM




      UK Hospitality has called for urgent government support in the Autumn Statement as new figures have revealed that the number of licensed premises in Britain...





       
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    • Raab,Unichef and Bullying
      The Dominic Raab Affair

      If your wondering what Ex minister Dominic Raab and Unichef have in common then read on?

      Since our conception in 2015 Unichef has constantly and consistently fought against bullying and harassment in UK kitchens.
      Last week when the Deputy Prime Minister resigned over bully allegations it signed a new chapter in workplace relations that will last for many years to come.

      Finally the issue of bullying now been clearly defined by a leading KC and that in itself has set a new precedent for what can now be defined as “Workplace Bullying”

      For years we have been warning chefs that this day would come, that there arrogance, shouting, bating, banter and sexist overtones amounted to dismissal and we have been proved right.
      That overbearing criticism, belittling of people and humiliation can all now be termed as “abuse of power” and that can lead to dismissal and even prosecution.

      Even as you read this we are involved in several serious cases where “abuse of power” by either a Head Chef or Sous Chef has been ignored and allowed to create an “atmosphere of fear” and intimidation.

      Even now in the 21st Century we have Chefs who believe that the can do and say whatever the like in “their” kitchen. Their time has come, their reckoning awaits and Unichef will punish all who abuse abuse and condone this vile and outdated behaviour in the workplace.

       
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    • 60% surge in pub closure
      Almost 60 surge in pubs shutting for good this year

      WWW.THECATERER.COM



      The rate of pubs being demolished or redeveloped increased by almost 60 during the first three months of the year as energy bills continue to batter the sector.





       
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    • Tip,Tip..Hooray !!
      At last...at long last,legislation finally getting through both houses on tipping of service staff and chefs.Now employees have the right to demand that the service charge and tips be given to them without ANY deductions.
      The Article quotes as saying that it doesn't happen"very much"..really?..then why legislate for it then ?

      The fact is it does happen and more often then people realise,especially when it comes to chefs or waiters leaving the business as some ( not all ) employers seem to think that they can "claw back" anything that may be owed to then though the service charge system?

      well now they cant and about time too !!
       

      Tipping legislation to become law after clearing House of Lords

      WWW.THECATERER.COM



      A bill that will prevent employers from making deductions from staff tips has cleared the House of Lords and will receive Royal Assent to become law.





       
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    • Unfair dismissal...new take ?
      OMG...this is quite some case!..well worth reading...
      In essence the case seemed to fairly trivial,most of it could have been sorted at an earlier stage but it really does goes to show some of the very poor management decisions that we see all to often at Unichef.

      They obviously didn't have the skill set,patience or experience to sit down with this employee and thrash out the issues over a cuppa,Instead it has been allowed to fester and now the result has been a Tribunal award of breathtaking amounts.

      The Employer" irrationally disregarded argument and evidence", surely then the next to be sacked should be the management team that oversaw this shoddy affair?
       

      Nursery chef unfairly dismissed after biscuit snub

      WWW.PERSONNELTODAY.COM



      Nursery chef dismissal: A worker was awarded £34,000 in compensation after issues with investigations and how his performance was handled.






       
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    • Jamie's bang on !
      Almost day one Unichef have seen the vision of diversity as the answer to the majority of the issues in modern catering,  and now yet again we have been proven right.
      At  last a major figure in the profession has had the courage to say what we have believed in for so long that the major issues of drugs and sexism will not go away whilst we still have male dominated kitchens.
      This outdated and largely unworkable method of kitchen planning often sees high turnover of staff and increasing problems of recruitment and low morale.
      Once again Jamie Oliver's insight into our industry is stunningly accurate, his bravery exemplary and his vision acute. He knows more than most and has the balls to say so.
      His admission that he works better when he thinks like a woman and has women around him is extraordinary and one that many chefs can Identify with but have not had the courage to say so.He sees the unique and special talents women bring to a kitchen and their simplistic and uncomplicated attitude to food that can enhance a working environment tenfold.
      50/50 kitchens have to be our future, there can be no doubt now and
      applause and credit once again to truly inspirational Jamie Oliver.
       

      ‘It’s quite scary!’ Jamie Oliver says upscale restaurant kitchens are ‘flooded’ with drugs

      UK.NEWS.YAHOO.COM



      The celebrity chef spoke about the ‘aggressive’ and ‘male-driven’ kitchens he’d worked in previously





       
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    • Kids veto Hospitality
      New stats out today show that less than a quarter of all young people now see hospitality as a career option.

      This is of little surprise to many as we have seen a demise in the quality and quantity of successful recruits coming from the NVQ system.

      It is what has been termed our Perfect Storm “as many aging employees (especially chefs) went either during the pandemic or shortly afterwards. That and the Brexit shortage of E.U workers has made our industry even less attractive than it ever was.

      This stark report shows that industry has much more to do than simply upping wages as we rightly said during the pandemic that money was not the only issue facing Hospitality.

      Sadly though, this report is likely to fall on deaf ears. Those responsible for leading our industry are much more interested in aching accolades for themselves than solving the industry's woes.

       

      Less than a quarter of young people would consider a career in...

      WWW.THECATERER.COM





       
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    • Why chefs die young
      The recent tragic death of Masterchef Jock Zonfrillo has highlighted yet again the extremes that chefs constantly find themselves in. Whether that be the hours they work or the pressure to achieve, but more and more often it’s the financial extremes that are pressurising them in having to achieve the slimmest of margins and the highest of profits.

      Is it any wonder then that this inevitably has an impact on the health of those chefs?

      The Article attached gives the names of many of the leading chefs that has sadly left us too young, not forgetting the super talented Gary Rhodes and Paul Kitchen whom so many of us still look up to for our inspiration in British cooking.

      All of them will be so very much missed.
       

      Jock Zonfrillo: Why chefs Anthony Bourdain, Jeremy Strode, Justin Bull, Darren Simpson died young | Daily Mail Online

      WWW.DAILYMAIL.CO.UK



      When MasterChef host Jock Zonfrillo died suddenly this week, his name was added to the tragic roll call of chefs who died from unnatural causes.





       
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    • Passive Cultures
      Almost since our conception as the voice of UK chefs Unichef has constantly and consistently campaigned for Diversity and Inclusion for our Profession, we have and always will see it as the answer to so many of our issues.

      So with great sadness we see yet again the commencement of yet another “man cave “kitchen but with the added caveat that this time the Chef/Proprietor has at least received considerable flack for doing so.

      At least we can take some comfort that our message is getting through even if its not quite reaching all those that bury their heads in cookery books instead of realising that the development of their brigade is equally important as developing recipes?
       

      Thomas Straker acknowledges lack of diversity in his kitchen and pledges to do more

      WWW.RESTAURANTONLINE.CO.UK



      Thomas Straker has said he’s ‘committed to ensuring diversity’ in his restaurant following criticism online over the lack of both female employees and people of colour in his kitchen.





       
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