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Brian

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Brian last won the day on April 23 2019

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  1. Brian

    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. For many years I have been demonising the Accreditation's System in British cooking, This constant dogma that art oversees taste has become a disease in our industry and that a dish isn’t truly great unless it’s on an £80 plate and covered in cress or flowers, when in reality it is often just an excuse to justify poor cooking and extortionate pricing. Whilst there are lots of Chefs still determined about making a comeback and being positive, they will find a public weary of spending and a workforce reluctant to work in an industry that has badly let them down. It is very clear too that that top Law Firms are now looking at the possibility of mass claims for unfair dismissal, and there is little doubt that many Employers will face action for making people redundant without consultation, the legal period of notice and ignoring the Governments offer of support. That there was justifiable reason for redundancy will be questioned as never before. Those that believe that we can simply open our doors and everything will be as it was are naive and oblivious to the hardship many have suffered, and those Head Chefs and Restaurateurs who believe that they only have to switch their ovens back on and its “check on” will stop, look around, and find they are the only ones there? So too, may the era of the “celebrity chef” be over. This bitterness that top chefs have been able to cocoon themselves in luxury made off the back of their staff whilst so many have faced serious hardship will not be forgotten, the" I’m alright Jacks “ have already been seen as they are, greedy and non-compassionate. Perhaps then a new era? An era where Chefs have finally realised that there more to life than that extra Rosette or chasing that Michelin Star that they will never get. Perhaps now an era of calm and an era where people can see that cooking is great job, but it is just that…a job? Yes, when many chefs will be eager to get back to work, there will be many who have been off long enough to evaluate their lives, spend time with their kids, breath fresh air, take exercise and will now be thinking “was it ever all worth it “? Brian McElderry
  2. Brian

    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. They opened up in a way we never expected and I, like many others, sat crying at the anguish and pain endured by chefs who simply wanted ( needed ) to go to work but had the daily battle with an illness no one could see and few appreciated. These chefs wanted nothing from me, just the opportunity to share their struggle and have someone listen and understand. Similar other “listening posts “ sprung up, many only to fall by the waste bin through lack of commitment or support, and we knew that to help and succeed in bringing about awareness we had to be there 24/7 for those who needed us. A while ago I was contacted by such a listening post, and a chef dedicated to helping similar chefs who had issues like his own and shared our values and vision of a better way. Steven Mercer had went further than most, he had dedicated time and money into his site and he wanted to Unichef to advise him further. Amazingly Steven took our advice and now has the proud honour of having his Blog site fully endorsed by the National Chefs Union. Steven has worked tremendously hard, dedicating his own story to help and inspire others. His story will echo that of many and now he brings his life experiences and unique way of dealing with those issues into a fascinating forum for all to share and be inspired from. Cooking in Mind is very different. Real chefs with real issues and someone who listens, understands and can help with support in new ways and with new ideas. For those who believe the only way to cope is to turn to Alcohol or Drugs should visit Cooking in Mind and see that there is a better future for them. Unichef is proud to endorse Cooking in Mind, please visit and support Steve whenever you can at www.cookinginmind.com Brian Mcelderry
  3. Brian

    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**. As a result, the FSA is reminding those preparing and cooking any liver pâté how they can do it safely, so it can continue to be enjoyed by the public this Christmas. The majority of people who get ill from campylobacter recover fully and quickly but it can cause long-term and severe health problems in some. No responsible food business would wish this on its customers, and happily it is easy to avoid. The FSA recommends: Cooking liver until the core reaches 70°C for 2 minutes (or an equivalent time and temperature combination) to remove the risk of campylobacter Alternatively, employ another safe cooking method, such as bain-marie or sous vide You can find more information and a safe bain-marie recipe for liver pâté on the FSA website.
  4. Brian

    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. Truly skilled and talented Chefs rarely need to exert authority. Their skill and authority are absolute, their demeanour approachable and trusting, their care and compassion without doubt. Few realise that being in control of a kitchen also means being in control of themselves too?
  5. 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.
  6. For the last 3 years Unichef has been quietly working away at a subject that affects every chef in the UK. Its something that most are not even aware of and some even question its existence, yet Heat Stress is now a major topic of discussion and is now being recognised as a serious workplace issue. For too many years chefs had had to endure the heat and pressures that modern kitchens create believing that this was normal and that there was little answer to the problem, we just “suck it up “ To look at the causes we need to go back to when UK kitchens were not as they are now. A time when there was no Heated Passes, no undercounter fridge freezers in the kitchen and a 2-3% lower ambient climate then now. The innovation of the Brands and Gastropubs,meant that kitchen design came last on the thoughts of designers who’s prime concern was output and not the Thermal comfort of the employees The pace of modern kitchens and the escalating cost of prime land means that in the last 30 years kitchens are 50% smaller than they were whilst turning out 100% more volume, requiring chefs too move as little as possible, by having everything at hand, often working in cramped conditions with masses of heat producing machinery. We take it as normal, but the effects on the body and mind can be extreme and often very serious. Now organisations such as MIND,The Stroke Association and The Health and Safety Executive are supporting Unichef in their campaign to maximise a safe level of Temperature in UK kitchens. Our campaign is gathering momentum and 2020 will see us push even further to make employers realise the dangers that extreme of heat can have on their workforce. Last year, Unichef Ambassador Gemma Page published her in-depth study of Heat Stress in Commercial Kitchens and you can read it now by clicking the link button below; note, this is a PDF file and you will need a PDF file reader to access it. Heat Stress Dissertation
  7. Brian

    Anaphylaxis Campaign

    Mention allergens to most chefs and they throw their hands into the air, it is still the most talked about discussion in kitchens today. If you then mention Anaphylaxis you are likely to very soon talking to yourself. Yet is shouldn’t be that way. True it is a subject that frightens many because the very thought that your actions may cause injury or even death can scare many chefs into being unconfident . Anaphylaxis is the serious reaction that the body has when the Allergen concerned invades the system and the body’s immune defence struggles to cope. Each Allergen has a different effect, and some may be mild but others deadly However is knowledge is power, and the Anaphylaxis Campaign is an amazing organisation that sets out to give everyone a better understanding of exactly what Anaphylaxis is how as chefs we can begin to work with these allergens and begin to understand the effects they can have on the body. The website of AC is full of amazing advice and categorises each of the 14 Allergens and give a complete and well written synopsis than anyone can understand so chefs should no longer be afraid, but instead embrace the Allergen system and advice, treat all of their clients with the dignity and respect that they deserve and power forward into a new realm of cooking. So take a look at AC and you will see the Allergan issue in a completely different light, This incredible organisation is doing so much to educate everyone and Unichef is doing all it can in making chefs understand more to help them in their daily routine. Check out their fantastic website and begin to learn more about Allergens and the effects they can have. Anaphylaxis Campaign WWW.ANAPHYLAXIS.ORG.UK We support everyone affected by anaphylaxis and severe allergies, access comprehensive factsheets, join us as a member, access our AllergyWise training
  8. Brian

    Unichef food4kids

    Let’s face it, the way we feed our kids at school is nothing short of a national disgrace! My work with local schools has brought me into daily contact and I have been traumatised by the poor standard of cooking and the planning of school meals.Food has often become a revenue earner in many schools and food is often created that is a “seller” regardless of it lack of nutrition. Hi Carb and hi sugar is the order of the day with many children now reaching their recommended intakes by early morning. Pizza, cheese on toast, cakes paninis, cakes, sticky buns, all on sale by 11.00am. When Jamie Oliver first highlighted the situation, we have known the dangers and I really thought schools had changed but they haven’t. I started out shocked and dismayed but I needed to find out why this was happening and after a years study I believe I have found the reasons, the answer’s and the solutions. This all might sound grand, but in reality the answers have been staring us right in the face for many years. Kids need feeding for sure, they are hungry at the best of times but the “full on assault” of the politically correct brigade has proved a failure. Replacing pizza with a Fruit Kebab might sound the answer but the uptake is poor, and so the value is of no significance. Schools also rely heavily on the revenue generated by the sales of Hi carb-Hi sugar items to sustain jobs, if they suddenly drop in revenue redundancies are likely if not inevitable and this too is a major issue and a real reason for the lack of progress. So what DO we do? British Children are now addicted to Sugar and Carbohydrates, there is no doubt. Until now the technology in food has not been at the forefront (although it has been there for many years ) that enables us to replace the Hi-Carbs and Sugars with an equally effective product in both taste and value. If we can produce flour based products with Low Carb alternatives that are great to eat and cost the same price them we are at a major turning point in school feeding, and I believe that time has come. The revolution in Vegan and Allergenic free products has stormed the supermarkets and the technology to produce the Lower Value items that we seek is right there to be harnessed and used. If the kids want Pizza, great let them have it, BUT let us ( the industry ) make sure that what they eat is vastly reduced in Carbs and sugars, and that it still tastes great and that the caterers can continue to run their business cost effectively. Low Carb flours and Bread ( Hovis Lower Carb ) are now so advanced that they are indeed a real alternative and whilst still expensive that cost will come down with consumer pressure and continued use. The same applies to sugar. Alternatives in the past were poor but the revolution in Plant Based, natural products has seen a real alternative such as Stevia coming to the market That’s where food4kids comes in. We will use our Union to lobby industry and schools to come on board, help us to produce these products and put them into the real environment. Unichef is a Community Union and where better can we make a difference then right in the heart of how every school should run, from its kitchens. We will teach and educate Heads, Teachers and the kids into the future of eating and bring awareness about Obesogenic Environments. We will work closely with the Schools, Caterers and suppliers to ensure a consistent and sustained approach to this NEW challenge, a 21st century challenge using technology to solve the issues that we face. We will encourage top chefs to be involved and help us to produce items and menus fit for today's educational system and we will bring food back onto the curriculum where many believe it should be.
  9. Brian

    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.
  10. Multi award winning TV Chef /Presenter, Author, Speaker, Culinary Consultant, Innovator, International Judge and British Ambassador for Food. Alan is a renowned international chef with experience in leading Michelin star restaurants and 5 star hotels, as well as a vast career in media, filming more than 1,250 TV shows to date for networks such as BBC, BBC Worldwide, ITV1, Channel 5 and Food Network to name but a few. Alan was invited by the British Prime Minister’s office to become the “British Ambassador for food and drink” and is also the UK Ambassador for the “Organisation Mondial de la Gastronomie”,
  11. Pilot Light is a campaign focused on changing the way people think and act about mental health through addressing the industry specific contexts and environments found in professional kitchens and the broader hospitality sector. Founded by professional chefs, Andrew Clarke and Doug Sanham in 2018, the campaign is unapologetically bold in its approach to combating mental health stigma and hopes to act as a beacon of support to those affected by common-place issues such as depression and addiction. The campaign is delivered in partnership with Time to Change. Pilot Light’s voice is stronger and louder thanks to Time to Change, who lend the campaign marketing, PR and administrative support to extend its reach in addition to a wealth of mental health expertise and resources to support the sector and employees working in hospitality.
  12. Paul Askew, Chef Patron of The Art School Restaurant, is one of the North West’s most popular Chefs. A stalwart of the hospitality industry, Paul champions seasonal and local ingredients whilst supporting artisan producers from across the U.K. Paul’s restaurant, the critically acclaimed, Art School Restaurant, is listed in the 2018 Harden’s Top 100 Best UK Restaurants, having been awarded “Taste of England” at the 2017 Visit England Awards and appeared in 2017 Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants, the first restaurant in Liverpool to make the list. 2018 has also seen The Art School named in the Top 10 UK Restaurants for Vegan Fine Dining by Peta UK. It has also received critical acclaim from the Michelin, Good Food and AA guides.
  13. An Oliver Harvey chefs wear garment is quite simply everything you would expect from a British Designer. Meticulously designed to cope with the rigours of a hectic kitchen, carefully crafted from the latest textiles and fabrics, and finished to the highest standards ensuring both longevity and value. Combine this with contemporary styling normally seen on the catwalk and you will understand why “quintessentially British” is positively right. Oliver Harvey was born out of the realisation of a distinct shortage of Tailored Chefs Clothing that is designed and manufactured in Great Britain. The range has been designed based on Classic styles with an inspired twist to bring to market a range that is ultimately the best in class. This is after scouring the four corners of the world to find a selection of fabrics that not only look and feel great but also perform to the exacting standards of any domestic and commercial wash process.
  14. 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 guests 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
  15. La Belle Assiette was founded to make entertaining at home truly enjoyable. We bring talented chefs into your kitchen so you can enjoy hosting dinners, without the stress of cooking or cleaning. Reputable chefs Our community consists of 364 professional chefs. Check their experience and reputation on La Belle Assiette.
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