Once again, the vile topic of Sexual Harassment is raising its ugly head.
As if we did not have enough to contend with as chefs, we still hear of disturbing reports and complaints of sexual bullying and even sexual assault.
Sadly, few realise the real harm this can cause and the extreme penalties that are involved for those that perpetrate and those managers and Head Chefs who turn a blind eye to the tribal goings on in their kitchens.
In an industry that has been completely turned on its head with COVID and is now beginning to realise the enormity of the changes in store, isn’t also time that we evaluated the very values and morals that we need in today's modern kitchens.
Unichef has constantly strived for a Zero tolerance of abuse in all kitchens, it is the number one core principal set out in our constitution, but it still continues to be a difficult battle.
The endemic attitude of many male chefs and the lack of strong female and gay chefs who are prepared to make a stand no matter what the cost is at times frustrating and often heart breaking.
Tribal kitchens still thrive and feral chefs who still exhume vile and hurtful statements, behaving as jungle animals looking for their next victim, caring not that they could well be on the way to prosecution, dismissal and the prospect of never being employed in any food establishment ever again are sadly still present in our profession.
The things they say, their actions and demeanour are often unbelievable. The common thread being that somehow the kitchen is “their kitchen“ and the rules do not apply to them. It's their domain, their “tribe, and their gang and what goes on in the kitchen “stays in the kitchen”.
This outdated and pathetic attitude has no place in modern cookery, no place in the 21st century and no place in our Union. The days of kitchens being dominated by males who run kitchens as their very own playground must end and we know at Unichef that litigation is the only answer.
Chefs who won’t listen and can’t understand that Sexual Harassment is fundamentally wrong will be dragged to Tribunals and forced to answer for their vile actions. Together with the huge pay-outs that have been awarded may well start to have an effect and hopefully encourage others to come forward and make that stand.