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?
Well, that's actually more closer to the truth than you think?
It is difficult to fully understand in a short time, but there are two thesis papers and a great article that will help you understand the demographics that help create the toxic environment currently seen in kitchens. The first is by Prof Wendy Bloisi:
This examines the cultural reasons why chefs can bully, that historic abuse breeds more abuse and that commercial kitchens can be an extension of the chefs homelife, or social life. That in essence they often bring their issues and social values to work. If they are brought up in a gang or street culture they often seek that same comfort in their workplace. In reality male dominated kitchens are very much an extension of the school playground where girls are excluded and the hierarchal system of inclusion takes place, the toughest survive and the weakest are bullied. Catering by and large is not an academic profession, Chefs are mostly kids off the street who will never amount to anything else through poor education and social deprivation, that includes both me and Gordon Ramsay, we are just kids off council estates who have a talent to cook.
The second is more recent and is from Cardiff University. It examines the long held mystery of the “closed” culture within kitchens and just why chefs seen to believe they can do anything they want within their own domain. The often isolated chef/chefs are never really included in the general work scene of many establishments hence the phrases “ back of house” and “front of house” which again isolates chefs into their own community and own world. The thesis examines this “parallel universe” that chefs sink into, believing that what they say and do is completely acceptable in their world.
An interesting article also by David Simpson ( 2008 ) looks at the “Gordon Ramsay Effect” and is really very much at the heart of what is happening today and I will talk more about this with you, but essentially what Ramsay did in glorifying abuse still affects those chefs who idolised him and were groomed into believing that kitchen had to be aggressive in order to function correctly.
So, if you put all three together and then realise that our industry is largely un-unionised and poorly policed the you begin to understand just why this is still going on and why it is such a hot topic.