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Mental Health Awareness
Why it matters?

And then we realised that we also knew many of these chefs, and we had been working alongside of them for many years without realising the often huge sacrifices they have to make just to earn a living in the job they love.

From that day on we knew that if Unichef was to help chefs then we needed to embrace MHI and work to learn more about those issues and those that have them. We started from scratch, we listened, and we learned, we talked, and we communicated with new friends and associates. We joined the Time to Change project in early years and more recently became very close to MIND in working together to end Mental Health discrimination in our industry.

Today Unichef stands proud in the fact that we have done more to raise awareness of MHI in catering than any other Union, and when we became a CIC we took the inspirational step of enshrining MHI into our constitution, the first Union ever to do so.

We constantly work to make all chefs and employers “aware” that the chefs your working with may have an illness that they often don’t want to talk about, but that they have every day of their lives, they don’t want pity or your money, they just need you to understand.

Taking time to understand that having MHI is a daily strain in what is a hugely difficult job, taking time to check on your colleague, taking time to realise that their life might not be the same as yours, taking time to care, and taking time to support.

So, awareness matters,  not just this week but as a constant theme in our everyday lives. Being aware that we have a 1 in 4 chance of working with someone that needs our understanding and a 1 in 4 chance that their bad days are 10 times worse than ours.

Be aware of Mental Health Issues, not just today, but forever.
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The Good Work Plan 2020
The Good work Plan 2020

A revolution in working practise is about to impact on our industry and change the way employers engage with their workforce is about to happen, starting in April 2020.

In 2018 the Government commissioned an independent report by Mathew Taylor on how to modernise and inspire the British workforce and its findings and recommendations have sent shock-waves through the Catering Industry.
The principals are to create a British workforce fit for the 21st Century, a workforce that is inspired  to do better and to produce more through Employer engagement, improved working conditions and care in the workplace as well as improved regulation and a new Regularly body to police these laws.

Each Industry has its own unique issues and the Catering Sector is no different.

Chefs have suffered for many years from inequality and discrimination, especially in multi departmental establishments, such as Hotels where, clerical staff, reception and HR are all treated differently in terms of facilities and contracts. This will all soon come to an end.

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My Restaurant - the future?
With so much discussion about the future of chefs and what may happen if and when we return to work, many of us have forgotten the other side to the story.Its easy to think only of ourselves but what about the employers and in particular pub and Restaurant owners who have sunk their money and much of their lives into their dream.What is to become of their livelihood and what kind of a future do they see?

We talk to Catherine Spence, the owner of a hugely popular and successful Restaurant in North Yorkshire to see how she feels about the future of her dream?


Q. Hi Catherine,good to talk to you.What changes do you think would be good in the future after re-opening?

A. What I think would be a good idea for you to advocate Brian, would be making the general public realise they need to pay more for meals and stop looking for offers , discounts and money off,then independents could pay higher wages

Q. I agree totally, we have been opposed to 2-4-1 offers for many years and have said that there is simply too many bad Restaurants and too many Branded Chains?

A. Exactly, the chains have ruined the industry, with ready made , vacuum packed food and offers.I’m up against this all the time , we have 2 chains near us and customers always complain that we are too slow, they just don’t get we are actually cooking the food and not putting it in a microwave

Q. I believe that we are about to see a transition to the way we used to be where staff and clients were more highly thought of and that service was a skill and a pleasure.Can you see a future for quality establishments?

A.Yes I can and my plan is to up our game , as there will be fewer diners , go for quality rather than quantity will be the way forward for us now.

Q. With so many restrictions to running a Restaurant,do you see the future as a challenge?

A.The system is against us , to be honest,VAT,business rates ( we pay £9000 a month ) Regulations,Health and Safety etc etc
Q. Are you actively planning re-opening or are you waiting to see what instructions the government have in store ?

A. I’m definitely reopening, we own the property, so need to open,but waiting to see the government guidelines  then decide how to move forward

Q. Do you think it is possible to obey the restrictions and still keep your staff and customers safe and maintain the unique and special atmosphere that your famous for?

A. We could maintain the social distancing , but the atmosphere will not be the same , Italian restaurant are usually buzzing, busy and noisy , that will not be the case. It will probably now be a restaurant where people visit as a couple or family. But not in groups or parties for a long time.

Q. Finally Catherine,do you envisage having difficulty recruiting for chefs when you re-open and in the future?

A. No , I think now chefs will not leave their jobs and stay put.
 

Thank you Catherine
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Open Letter from Alan Coxon
Dear Chefs , friends and colleagues

I, like many of you out there, have spent and dedicated a life to the food and hospitality sectors, and as if our jobs as chefs wasn’t challenging enough, we now stir directly into the face of even greater adversity.

As culinary creatives, artists, scientists, blended with a heavy dollop of hard labour and commonly referred to as chefs, we like to share our skills, offer experiences, excitement and make memories for our guests, more often than not, these are performed in challenging stressful working environments, short staffed, working long hours and not forgetting the low levels of compensation!, but we do it all too often because we love it!  

We embrace the service, demands, challenges, excitement and thrills that this industry can offer, whilst also having an eye on even greater opportunities, expansion, projects and goals.

We work in an incredible diverse industry that has the ability to proudly place regions and towns on the British and even global culinary maps, an industry that allows new doors to open in new locations and even countries!. We work within one of the few industries that allows us to cross pollinate our skills in new regions and destinations, meet new people, increase our knowledge, embrace new cultures and culinary diversity in the process.

All of the aforementioned has been pulled from under our feet, our doors closed , our restaurants and kitchens silenced , our lives as we know it cancelled until further notice.

We are however humans and we have an incredible resilience , we do need to make a few adjustments and breath deeper than ever before, but we are also a very large community of special people, thousands of us in the same job, in the same position, with the same frustrations and there is no time like the present to join forces and to help each other when in need.

Together we will all get through this and bounce back with new hope, vigour and determination, we may even appreciate all those things around us a little more of which we once took for granted, we may now understand the fragility of the earth and even those that we share it with!.

We do however need to pull together to help those not covered in the governments furlough scheme, help those that may be looking for new jobs and positions later on or just help break the silence of the day with a friendly e-mail a shared joke or meaningless banter!.

Take advantage of this period of rest and prepare to take to the stage as the performance of our lives is around the corner !.

Stay well , stay safe and look forward to seeing you on the other side.

Alan Coxon

Alan Coxon, TV Chef / Presenter, Author, Speaker, Culinary Consultant

WWW.ALANCOXON.COM




Multi award winning TV Chef /Presenter, Author, Speaker, Culinary Consultant, Innovator, International Judge and British Ambassador for Food.





  
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Employment Issues
Employment issues can be complex and very time consuming. UK employment law is now one of the most diverse in the world and almost all employees are  regulated to some degree.

However much of that regulation is governed by the time you have been employed ( length of service ) and any contract details.

Landau Law are experts at Employment Legislation and Unichef are proud to have them as our supporting network for all employment issues.

If you have any employment issues please click on the link which will take you to their info panel. From there you can gain information on the subject that is concerning you and if need be you can then return to us for further guidance.


 

Click the link below to visit the special page setup for Unichef Members.

UK Employment Law for individuals - Landau Law

WWW.LANDAULAW.CO.UK




UK employment law rights for employees and senior executives in easy to understand language, from specialist employment law solicitors. 020 7100 5256





 
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When the dust settles?
It is already becoming clear after the Covid 19 crisis is over and the Nation returns to work many things in our industry will not be the same.
Thousands of chefs are justifiably angry and bitter at employers lack of compassion and professionalism in dismissing them without any hope of a return.
An industry that was already suffering a skill shortage will find Chefs are now lorry drivers, supermarket stackers and bin collectors and enjoying a job with better conditions and far less stress.
Their dreams of seeking super-stardom no longer a priority in their lives, if nothing Coronavirus has levelled out our “reality check” about what is and what isn’t important in our lives, and it will be many years ( if ever ) before the chasing of Rosettes dominates chefs thoughts 24/7 again.
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Welcome to HR Information
Welcome to Unichef's new Human Resource Section, which has been specially dedicated to its members.

Just as the UK's catering and hospitality industry couldn't get much worse; with national staff shortages, issues surrounding working times and work/life balance concerns, the industry has now been hit with a global pandemic, threatening to cripple the industry nationwide. During these very trying times, Unichef have decided to bring foreword its plans to have a dedicated HR section for its members; both employers and employees, providing regular updates of HR related news, and policies and procedures effecting the industry.

Information and articles are sourced using only reputable sources such as;

Trade Journals/Publications


CIPD (Charted Institute of Personnel Development)


ACAS


HSE


Government pages


Reputable news sources



We hope you find this section beneficial and please look out for updates.

 
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A Meeting of Minds
Since we began in 2015,Unichef has done more to raise the awareness of Mental Health Issues in Catering than any other Union.

At first even we were not truly aware of how deep and widespread the issues were. We learned “on the hoof” ignorant of much of the pain and suffering our friends and colleagues were going through.

Then things changed dramatically when we began our Facebook Page and then chefs from all over the country began to tell us their stories.
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Undercooked Pate
Reminder about cooking pâté safely  

There is no doubt that it’s a classic starter and firm festive favourite, but over the past five years there have been 30 food poisoning outbreaks linked to chicken liver pâté*. We know that many recipes, including some by leading chefs, advocate short cooking times so livers are served rare, and estimates suggest half of livers served commercially in the UK fail to reach 70°C during cooking. This can result in campylobacter survival rates of 48%–98%.** We also know, via the 2015 ‘Restaurant Cooking Trends and Increased Risk for Campylobacter Infection’ study, that many chefs prefer to serve livers substantially more rare than the public would like when eating out**.
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Bullying or Discipline
Defining the difference?

Whilst it is widely recognised that Commercial kitchens require a degree of Management and overall supervision, where that line is crossed and staff become abused has been argued recently.

Kitchens after all can be very dangerous environments, with often dangerous equipment and service areas and someone needs to be a leader and show overall control.

Catering is a strange and unique profession in the fact that many Head Chefs aren’t qualified or trained in running a kitchen and that many of the people skills that they need are often learned “on the hoof” and often after mistakes have been made.

Many Head chefs have little time for training their own staff, let alone receive much training themselves and are often promoted by just being in the right place at the right time or are promoted purely on their culinary skills and not their ability to run and control a business.

Few realise that dealing with people of various distinctions, ages sexes, religions and cultures can be hugely daunting and complex.

So it is that under this type of untrained semi managerial skill base that sometimes “Tribal Kitchens” evolve where Head Chefs are not the leader people want them to be but insist on still being “one of the crew”

Respect dissolves, the line between leader and friend becomes blurred and harmful and “Tribal Kitchens” evolve into environments for abuse and harm. Loud music, shouting, swearing and “playground” humour all mix into this breeding ground for abuse.

The abuser feels no threat or shame as he/she is simply one of the team and the team will support and encourage that abuse. The Team become a pack, often agreeing and applauding that abuse, vindicating that abuser, and so the vicious circle continues.

The abuser is no longer in control, but uses bullying as a form of control. Their own self-esteem and confidence is low and so seek control in boastful gestures and abusive manners.
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The Unichef Chef Wellbeing Programme
2020 will see Unichef moving into schools and colleges to educate chefs on the important issues concerning Chef Wellbeing.

But what exactly is Chef Wellbeing?

Unichef is a Union for the 21st century, our opinions and thoughts exceed those of our peers and education of our profession is a main aim of all we do. Chefs no longer have to “suck it up “ and work in poor surroundings with employers that care little for them, and Chef Wellbeing is a part of that new vision.

Chef wellbeing is the vision of getting your mind “right for the job” of giving chefs confidence in themselves to be happier and more confident in their work and to encourage employers to produce a safe and comfortable environment in which their chefs can flourish.

Chef wellbeing is about teaching chefs old and new about their responsibilities to their fellow chefs and making them realise their obligations they have to their colleagues, employers and customers

In 2019,many chefs contacted our Facebook page concerned at the lack of skills and knowledge of the youngsters coming into the profession and we have listened carefully to what has been said.

So, 2020 will see Unichef involve itself more and more into the sectors where we feel we can make that impact and where we feel we can learn more in order to pass that knowledge on.

In all, Chef Wellbeing is about creating a new culture, where chefs feel comfortable in what they do, are happy and have the inspiration to succeed in this amazing industry.
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Food4Kids
Announcing our new initiative for 2020, the Unichef Food4kids programme. This programme will study how Children in UK schools are currently being fed and how we can bring together experts in all fields to bring about the changes in the overconsumption of Carbohydrates and Sugar.

The programme will involve itself in how school meals are often very poorly designed and constructed, from the menu and recipe design through to costings and searching for cost-effective replacements for many of the favourite "fill up "foods that kids crave for.

Food4kids will work closely with schools and colleges in searching for all the answers to the difficult issues that they face and will seek to educate the Heads of Schools , their Governors and all of the school system into believing that there is a much better way to feed our children in the 21st Century and finally, but most importantly, the kids themselves.

Children need to be fully educated into that what they eat now will affect their health for many years to come. They need to know the addictive qualities that Starch and sugars have on the nutritional system as they grow.

We will use our extensive network of Chefs and suppliers to develop high quality, low carb, low sugar replacements for all the favourites that kids like. We've discovered through the years that replacing pizza with salad, just doesn't work, and we need to find like for like replacements, but with the addictive sugar and starch removed.

Such items DO exist and we need to put pressure on manufacturers , suppliers and Caterers to develop products with severely cut levels of these additives at the same price if not cheaper than products presently used. If kids want pizza then fine, just let us develop pizza and other items that are great tasting, but just as filling and at the price caters can afford...it can be done, and it will be.
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Great chefs wanted for La Belle Assiette
Fantastic wages, constant praise, your own menus and an incredible team to support you, what more could any chef want?

Yet the dream of many chefs awaits anyone who works for Europe’s premier Fine Dining website.

La Belle Assiette’s phenomenal rise to the top is founded on the simples principals of making sure everyone involved for each event has an amazing time..and that includes the chef!

LBA ( as it's known to all ) takes enormous pride in the success of their chefs and will do anything that is needed to secure the success of your client’s special night.

Each chef decides their own menu and costings based on LBA’s price ranges. You get to decide how much you want to work by using your own unique calendar portal, you even get to decide what area’s you want to cover and you can decide on the maximum number of guest you wish to cook for. Examples below:


On the evening of the event, you are the star performer, raising your game to secure the highest of accolades from your guests ( and some great tips also ! ) and hopefully that all-important rave review, which is the crowning glory of a job well done.

Being an LBA chef is the ultimate in designer cookery. Total freedom in what you cook and how you work, and an amazing team to support you all the way, the only rule is just making sure your guests have a truly wonderful night to remember.

Why not click into the link and call La Belle Assiette today, you won’t be sorry, I promise… bon appetite

Find Out More - Click Here
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Bullying in the workplace
Bullying in the workplace. Have you ever wondered why bullying chefs are the way they are? Why some kitchens are so "tribal", why they need to shout, play the big guy or simply just behave as if the whole kitchen revolves around them? Well, now you have all the answers in Wendy M.B Bloisi's fascinating thesis on Bullying and Negative behaviour in Commercial Kitchens.
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FSA the questions you asked
FSA the questions you asked. Earlier this year we asked the FSA a list of questions compiled from Our FB forum, It was quite a debate with some surprising answers and many chefs wanting further advice and info. It also gave us a great insight into how the FSA works and a chance to form a lasting relationship with them. Here are the questions and answers in their entirety.
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Self Employment, the myths and facts
Self Employment, the myths and facts. The growth is Self Employed Chefs in recent years shows us that many chefs seek the freedom and independence that this form of employment offers, but what are the myths and facts and is it really a bed of roses? Having been Self Employed for 35years I’m better qualified than most to explain the good and the bad to anyone thinking of taking the plunge into the unknown.
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Chefstress - identifying the causes
Chefstress, identifying the causes. With some of the hottest temperatures on record now hitting our kitchens, it’s time to evaluate and quantify to very causes of what is now acknowledged as “heat stress” which in turn leads to the workplace stress known as Chefstress. So, what exactly are “heatstress” and “chefstress” and how do they affect chefs in modern working kitchens.
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