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 ran 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.
“Not just a Union, but a Philosophy for the future”
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.
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
A work-life balance may have been unheard of in high-end kitchens in the past, but restaurants are now having to make changes
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.
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...
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.
Almost 60 surge in pubs shutting for good this year
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.
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
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.
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
Nursery chef dismissal: A worker was awarded £34,000 in compensation after issues with investigations and how his performance was handled.
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
The celebrity chef spoke about the ‘aggressive’ and ‘male-driven’ kitchens he’d worked in previously
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...
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
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.
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
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.
With news that a London Authority plans to set up a Teaching Academy that will centre on the divisive nature of London cuisines and NOT the classical teachings of previous chefs, have we at long last come to some sort of consensus in the way that we teach our future chefs.
Unichef has long believed that our teaching system is in meltdown and that the fundamental belief that we must teach our future chefs the classical way of learning was steeped in 70’s nostalgia.
Could we have realised along last that teaching Kimchi dressing is just as important as vinaigrette and that true adhesion to French Cuisine is simply a myth portrayed by people who don’t know any better?
We all know that times have changed, and that the industry has changed …Isn’t it about time that we changed too ??
It's Ironic that the reason we are posting this late on International Women’s Day is because we have been tied up with a serious case of Harassment?
The case involved a young single mum who has been receiving the most disgusting treatment within the kitchen of a well-known 3 Rosette establishment.
The Hotel, like so many others had taken its eye off the ball and had ignored its legal duty of care to its employees in its search for accolades and stars. The kitchen had become toxic with male chefs using sexist and violent behaviour towards this young woman.
So bad had it become she ended up on the sick with stress and she sought help from The National Chefs Union.
We acted immediately and warned the employers of the seriousness of the matter and their legal duty of care that we expected them to uphold.
To their credit the hotel "fessed up" and admitted the faults and immediately remedied the matter with an investigation which resulted in a dismissal and a supportive system of care for its staff. So now all is well, and she will return to work soon.
This young woman was incredibly brave, stood up to the harassment and was determined to seek the support she was entitled to from her employers, and she also had the courage and strength to seek support and compassion from Unichef which was able to bring the matter to a swift and amicable conclusion.
Even on International Women's Day the National Chefs Union is still fighting for equality for our female colleagues and still fighting against the bias in the industry.
So, on this day let us take pride in the work we have achieved but also acknowledge that we still have so much to do.
In 2015 Unichef were the very first chef organisation to openly discuss Mental Health Issues (MHI) in our profession, before that so many suffered in silence.
In order to create that safe space for discussion we needed to learn and embrace all that was being said to us. We knew as a Union that we could never fully understand what is like to suffer from such conditions but we also knew that we needed to care and support our fellow chefs.
That culture of finding safe spaces become more and more an essential part of our work, and so too we learned about how to embrace more and more the various aspects of our chefs’ lives, from those that suffered with IBS, Strokes, Autism and Asthma. Over the years Unichef has reached out and embraced all aspects of the lives of working chefs.
We never pretend to “understand” but we have learned to embrace, support and care, and we could not have done this without creating such safe spaces in which to openly discuss these important issues and having those chefs brave enough to come forward and help us to do that, without judgement or fear.
Today we can now say that we are in such a position to bring forward that support and care for our LGBTQ+ community.
For those that wonder just what sort of role Michelin and AA rosettes and future have post pandemic then this excellent article by Andy Lynes may begin to throw some light as to why many in the industry now believe as we do that the accreditations system in the UK is well outdated and is no longer fit for purpose (as if it ever was?)
We take no pleasure that any good hardworking Restaurant needs to close and that chefs will be disbursed into other jobs and sectors, but this is surely the now the defunct model of chefs spending fortunes on the latest equipment, gadgets, plates in order to achieve the once converted Michelin Star.
“Private Chef Giants La Belle Assiette to sponsor The National Chefs Union”
Unichef, The National Chefs Union, are delighted to announce that Europe’s premiere Private Chef Hire and Home Dining experience La Belle Assiette have agreed to sponsor Unichef for 2022.
This special and unique agreement will focus on the substantial wellbeing and rewards opportunity’s enjoyed by both LBA chefs and Unichef members.
As Executive Director of Unichef explains:
“for the first time a company has enlisted the services of a union to promote its in house benefits whilst at the same time allowing all of its chefs to Join a Union free of charge, it is totally visionary and inspiring”
This is the very first time a company employing freelance chefs have ever enlisted the support of a National Union and LBA Chief Executive Guillaume Cussac explains just why this partnership is so special, he says this:
"We are very pleased to support Unichef and all of the amazing work they do for the Chef industry. As the UK's leading private Chef company, Chef wellbeing is key and at the heart of what we do; supporting Unichef just made a lot of sense"
It's really hard to believe but bullying and harassment still goes on in our kitchens today,even with many headline storey's and constant press attention,its almost as if Chefs seemed to think they are on another planet?
Without question, one of the major issues we face in modern British Cookery is the myth that has grown over recent years that all chefs must adhere to the now perceived look that has been portrayed by media, film and social media that British chefs should be male, white and (preferably) tattooed? We now have a "look" as to what people think a British chef should look like??
This way of thinking is now ingrained into British cookery and is a cancer that has spread to many of those companies and institutions that have a social responsibility to uphold standards for the future.
Unichef endorses #Fairkitchens
The National Chefs Union,Unichef has agreed to fully endorse the new flagship accreditation and training scheme Fair Kitchens.
The scheme sponsored by Unilever aims to provide free leadership training in interpersonal skills and will accredit kitchens with a criteria based award that will acknowledge Fair pay,fair hours and fair conditions within that establishment.
Unichef will be supporting the scheme with regular updates, information and guiding chefs towards the Leadership Training Scheme.
Executive Director Brian Mcelderry writes” Fair Kitchens will, for the first time, give a clear accreditation to those employers who seek to give their workforce better pay and conditions and will give customers a true indication of how staff are treated within each establishment, and this will become the “kitemark” for all British Kitchens in the future.
“Embrace who we are, be a part of what we do”