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Brian

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  1. One of the biggest issues we have in modern catering is what to do when conflict occurs within the pressures of a busy kitchen. These issues are very often the result of either the internal “self-drive” of the chef or chefs involved and, or the external pressures of time, standards and fatigue, and very often all these combine to create that “perfect storm”, Sadly, these days many young and inexperienced managers who have not proceeded through the ranks of Hospitality do not know how to deflect these situations in order to carry on with the day’s work and inevitably end up losing a chef, either for that day or even permanently. Without doubt the answer lies within the hands of the unit manager or Head Chef to be experienced and strong to be able to control and motivate their employees. Recruitment and selection play such a big part also. Many Head chefs and managers concentrate on the practical side of an applicant but few seek to know the inner person they are interviewing. Few ask for their views on bullying and discrimination or their attitudes to women in kitchens, yet much of the future conflict can be avoided by more careful selection of candidates. If we focus more on the merits of the person and not solely on their cooking ability then we should be able to see the potential for conflict at that stage. Personal references and careful scrutiny of candidates at this stage avoid the potential for conflict. Kitchen conflicts are often about personalities, with experience and careful man management these occasions need be rare.As new Chefs are so often interviewed by the Head Chef or Manager, they are rarely introduced to the team or brigade for their reactions, yet the team itself should have a major say in who they bring into their workplace environment, should they not? This is a “people” business, yet our ability at times to understand and develop our senses about the people who we employ and work with can be quite shocking. When conflict occurs, we should question ourselves in asking could we, as Managers, chefs and colleagues have done more to avoid that incident, were we as much to blame?. The National Chefs Union works tirelessly with many employers to educate our colleagues that the great majority of conflicts are solvable and that they often move forward through development and motivational leadership. We must understand that nobody wishes these conflicts to occur and that there is normally a reason behind such incidents, we just need the will and experience to seek those reasons and prevent them from happening in the first place.
  2. Recent events have shown to the media and outside world that a shocking environment exist inside of many UK kitchens. Yet within the industry none of this is of any surprise, such is the now systemic nature of workplace abuse within our sector. Everyone is puzzled as to how and why this would be in a modern working environment but to analyse the matter one must appreciate the demographics of the workforce and the cultural changes that had enabled these vile practices to exist and thrive. Professor Wendy Bloisi’s ground-breaking research into the background of bullying in commercial kitchens has acted as our Union’s bible for many years. In her thesis she explains that social and economic factors bear heavily on the mainly un- academic platform of hospitality employees and namely chefs in kitchens who are mostly kids off the street who have a talent to cook but little else. Chefs are by and large are often seen as unskilled and problematic. https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/54526643/FULL_TEXT.PDF Those factors are born out when Chefs then bring their cultural ideologies and traits into an un-policed workplace where they are “safe” to bully and intimidate within their own peer group, without fear of retaliation, discipline or indeed prosecution. If we then subscribe to the now widely held social belief that “abuse breeds abuse” whether it be in the home, marriage or school, then also that must apply to the workplace also, and some kitchens in particular, which can be no more than a “playground” for bully’s. All of this has been ingrained into our workplace over the last 10-15 years by the “glorification” of kitchen abuse by chefs such as Gordon Ramsey and programs such as Hell’s Kitchen and the F Word. Ramsey himself came from an abusive background and strict culinary teaching and so that has perpetuated into his work. Those who idolise him copy his actions and believe that to be correct, normal and even "cool" and so it goes on, from generation to generation. Chef Ramsey may well be a reformed character but the damage has been done and will last for many years to come. This “gladiatorial” display of bullying, played out in front of millions, is now the main factor in just why “bullying and harassment has become systemic within UK kitchens. Many factors play there part in people who abuse such as lack of confidence, and self-esteem bit also those who bully and intimidate may have autistic traits and are often acting out a defense mechanism which is their way of self-protection. Both Chefs, and the wider public have now accepted this as how kitchens are ran and is without doubt the disease that has crept up upon us and has led to the now “normalisation” of abuse and harassment that we see today. Change can only be affected by constant education of our peers, our employers, the media, and most importantly, our students coming into the industry. Abuse is a plague within our sector that has to be stamped out by all who work within it. We are all part of a precious and special profession, a profession that cares for our clients but fails to care for those that work within it. We can do better and we must do better. We must learn from the past mistakes of others and make a conscious decision that as “professionals” we are sometimes not as professional as we should be and look to other professions that show us a better example of how to treat our colleagues.
  3. Brian

    A right (Eton) Mess

    With our industry now ready (almost) to return to some sort of reasonable normality we are now seeing the pent-up frustration of both Employers and Employees and issues raising to the surface. The pressures on Employers are staggering that’s for sure. many have huge debts and they continue to rise and now they are face with a massive shortage of good chefs and are having to shift that pressure back onto the small workforce that they have just to survive the rest of the year and get back some of what they have lost. Needless to say, this is causing huge resentment to staff, who feel that they are being made to pay for what has happened over the last year or so but are they right to feel that way? Do Employers also have a right to feel that they now should expect employees to shoulder the heavy burdens they have an “take one for the team “, soak up the pressure, work extra shifts and extra days, all for the good of the business and for the security of their job? It's certainly a moral dilemma that none of us have ever faced before. Is it right to “guilt trip” employees, is it right to add even more pressure than they already have or is it the Employers sole responsibility to shoulder all the issues and run their business effectively from day one? Do employees have a moral obligation to support their employers by providing free labour? At Unichef, we HAVE to see both sides of the coin. We have members who are owed thousands of pounds from employers who have no money. We have even heard of Employers keeping tips so that they can pay bills, and chefs having to clean toilets because they have no cleaner and many other sad and shocking stories. Things are not back to normal and will not be for along time. Industry experts predict this to last in Hospitality indefinitely as few realise that we have also lost a million oversees workers, many of whom were working in our sector. Remember nothing like this has ever happened before and we are watching carefully as they situation develops and hoping that some relief is in sight for both sides but we are not optimistic. We warned in March 2020 that this would happen, it was sadly all inevitable and possible much worse to come as chefs now feel even more that this is “not the job for them”. Many have returned excited, but so many more have returned frightened and disillusioned and are already looking to get out. An industry cannot simply lose that volume of workforce and not be severely affected and If, as many believe, they trade was bad before the crisis, then it’s even worse now that’s for sure, it’s in a mess and will be for a long, long time
  4. Recently, I had a notification from Linkedin telling me that’s someone wished to be included in my professional network, nothing new it happens every day. As you process that notification a panel appears that allows you to connect with likeminded professional’s and as being a chef, the algorithm’s set by Linkedin give me a huge selection, hundreds if not thousands of other chefs, and so you begin to connect with those you wish in your network. I tend to pick professionals who are clearly in the UK,and who I can then share and spread the word about our amazing Union.After picking about 20-30 I suddenly realised the huge lack of Women chefs and and chefs of colour, especially in any form of seniority? Sure there were a couple but most of the women were in other forms of the sector, Admin, Management HR etc and almost none Black or Asian female chefs? This really shocked me. Is the algorithm set to my past acceptance or is it geared up to my profile of being a male white chef? both of course would be wrong. Or could it be that Women and Black/Asian chefs don’t use Linkedin or even the reality that those demographic groups are simply not being represented on Social media because of the lack of those groups actually not being in our industry in sufficient numbers. This is certainly something we really ought to be considered more if indeed our industry is to recover from the pandemic and our employers seek to re-establish their business’s. Shockingly, almost all of the UK’s Contract Caterers are white male driven. Most of their group Executive Chefs, Development Chefs, Area Executive Chefs and Head Chefs are nearly exclusively white males? So too the numerous Chefs Associations and Craft oriented bodies that supposedly serve as ambassadors and leaders of our profession, promoting our culinary arts, again, mostly male, white dominated, and what about our college Lecturers, the teachers of our new young chefs, again the argument applies.Even in recruitment and on television the White Male Chef reigns supreme. Is the lack of diversity the reason why we still have so many problems in our industry? Is the fact that it is still white male driven the very reason that recruitment was at an all-time low before January 2020. Almost every employer of every description was finding it increasingly difficult to find the right chefs. Temporary Recruitment constantly relied upon and the situation was becoming so acute that it even began to affect the higher levels of our profession, including Michelin starred establishments.Whilst the” White Male Club” still exists in professional cookery, how can we ever hope to move forward? So, as we hopefully progress towards the re-opening of our business’s isn’t it time to reflect upon just how diverse we should all be in our approach to recruitment and begin to embrace the fact that diversity can and does bring a whole new set of dynamics to our profession and our business, and that the next time we do recruit then we begin to find those women, and BAME chefs that can bring that extra “special ingredient” to our brigades.
  5. On the eve of an historical meeting between representatives of the industry and Government officials, it is good for everyone to know just exactly why we need our own Hospitality Minister and just why we seek to get closer access to the corridors of power. Much has been said but we think it is time to set out just what we aim to achieve when we do get our own Ministerial Official. Ministers work between Government and the elected bodies and representatives of an industry. They consult and formulate and implement plans and legislation on behalf of that industry, liaise with and consult with that industry for the betterment of all involved, to create a better and more functional industry. They can and do act independently but they also work together with the industry on new plans and the implementation of agreed plans and legislation. They can also advise and help draw up papers to put before government that might need new legislative approval. The advantages are that government get an insight into the industry and that the industry concerned can get first-hand information and advice on any new or proposed plans moving forward. The National Chefs Union already has an extensive list of items to put before our new Minister which include. *The creation of a timetable to oversee the implementation of the Good Work Plan and the approval of budgets to create the policing structure for that legislation as detailed by the Director for Labour Enforcement. * Discussions on the possible amendments to The Health and Safety at Work Act to create a Maximum Level of Heat and to set in law the requirement for free-flowing fresh air within all UK commercial kitchens. * Discussions on the possible amendments to the Human Medicines Act to allow UK Commercial kitchens to store Emergency Asthma Kits (similar to schools) * Discussing on the revision of Food Premises Licensing to include provisions for the above amendments and employee wellbeing. Our list is not exhaustive, there is indeed much we wish to discuss with our new Minister and we fully intend to have our “seat at the table” and make sure the Chefs of the UK are not ignored. Employment abuse is systemic in UK kitchens and we need to hit the ground running and address the many issues that have been building up for so long, including the age-old practice of Chefs and their kitchens coming last on the priorities of new business who think they can make a fortune on the backs of their chefs without consideration and due attention to the law and their representatives. In the future no Pub, Hotel, Restaurant, or food premises should ever be allowed to open until the requirements and provisions of Laws attaining to the safety and wellbeing of employees are met first. The future of catering is here and with us right now and for long we have been last in the queue…now we will be first. Make no mistake, we fully intend to have our voices heard.
  6. Scottish and International Masterchef Shona Sutherland talks about sexism in our industry and just how important it can be that male chefs nurture and support talent of both sexes. Firstly, I want to stress that while dominance, bullying, harassment, sexism, intimidation and abuse I know is not confined to being directed only at women by men and can affect and be instigated by all demographic groups, since I am a chef and a female, I speak from this perspective. We can’t deny that it is an issue that still blights workplace mental and physical health, motivation, performance, passion, empowerment, happiness, and satisfaction. Secondly, I am keen to make aware that having been in the industry for my working life, that I am thankful to have worked with and been taught by many inspirational, respectful, humble, equality fighting and talented chefs who are male. We’d be in denial if we didn’t confront the fact that women in some cases are still victims of misogyny. While recognition and progress has been made over the years, there is still an engrained egotism, arrogance, domination, narcissism apparent and it is projects like these that lead the way in raising awareness. Education and leading by example are key. In an ideal world we can think of ourselves all as ‘chefs’ without a mention of gender, for me that is how I would have identified, but over time I have come to realise that it must be of huge disservice to women in the industry who have suffered atrocities at the hands of male colleagues. If we don’t differentiate in gender (in certain circumstances of discussion), then I’m not sure how the issues mentioned above that exist can be confronted or transformed in the future. I have had the joy of working in professional kitchens where, alongside men, women were an integral part of the operation, bringing their creativity, humour, understanding, strength, passion, leadership, and determination with them. How beneficial would it be to be to empower these qualities in the workplace, or is this exactly what a superiority mentality would try to suppress? I’d like to thank all those supportive, dynamic, creative, inspirational, and talented women I’ve encountered on my chef journey in all areas of the catering industry Thanks, Unichef for inviting me and other chefs to take part in the ‘Not on the Menu’ project. You can discover more about Shona and the fabulous work she does at Taystful, her chocolate emporium in Perthshire. Chocolaterie, Patisserie, Wedding Cakes, Masterclasses, Workshops. Perthshire Scotland. WWW.TAYSTFUL.CO.UK Taystful creates luxury handmade chocolates, stunning cakes and patisserie, and holds masterclasses, courses and workshops at Taystful and venues further afield. Shona has also created a survey so that female chefs can have thier say on sexism in the industry Women in Catering Survey - Sexism, Equality, Male Dominance WWW.SURVEYMONKEY.CO.UK Web survey powered by SurveyMonkey.com. Create your own online survey now with SurveyMonkey's expert certified FREE templates.
  7. Some reading this will be wondering just why we need to push this subject so hard, after all aren’t there supposed to be equality laws in place? That’s true, there are, however much of that legislation is still governed and policed by men, and mostly men who have been brought up in a sexist environment which often effects their passive view attitude to women in kitchens. I too, was brought up in this macho, male dominated atmosphere, although I was grateful that my main teachers in cookery were all women and I benefited from their wisdom and care. Those early years working with women taught me so much about the respect and value that I needed to show as I progressed in my career. You would think that in the 21st century, the very last thing we should have to worry about is the safety and comfort of our female colleagues in UK kitchens, however the truth is that sexism and inequality is still a big issue in today's kitchens, and we need to continue the fight against it. So many chefs have commented upon the lack of young chefs and the quality of their training, yet as an industry we still fail to realise just how unattractive the job is to many youngsters and especially to young women who still see the industry dominated by loudmouth macho chefs and they wonder” is this really the job for me?” Unichef have known for many years that teaching “old dog's new tricks” is a long and arduous process, and therefore we know that if we are to eradicate sexism from the profession, we must educate our younger chefs from day one. We also know that, in the short term, Litigation or even the threat of Litigation can be a powerful tool against the sexists. Fines are increasing and many employees are now aware of the seriousness of sexism and the damage it can do to their business. The industry seriously needs to get its own house in order if we are to adequately provide a workforce fit for the21st Century. In 2021 we should not even be discussing this subject, but we are so far behind many professions that except women as equals and as colleagues and not sex objects. We have taken our slogan # Not on the Menu from the USA yet again other countries have taken the initiative against sexism and #Not on the Menu is a hugely successful campaign which has succeeded in catapulting some of the USA’s top female chefs into prominence. We need to take a strong lesson from their book and begin to look in the mirror and say to ourselves, “we must do better” and end sexism in British kitchens.
  8. Hospitality Action was established in 1837 and has since offered vital assistance to all who work, or have worked within hospitality in the UK and are the largest UK Hospitality Charity. They are there for the chefs, waiters, housekeepers and managers. They are there for the concierges, receptionists and kitchen porters. And they are there for every sommelier, bartender, catering assistant and cook across the UK. Whether you work in hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars or cafes, schools, hospitals or event venues, They are there to give you the help, advice and support you need whenever times get tough. Click Here To Visit Website
  9. Time to Change is a growing social movement working to change the way we all think and act about mental health problems. We've already reached millions of people and begun to improve attitudes and behaviour. In 2018 Unichef took the Pledge to support TTC and became the first Union in the UK to actively support Mental Health in the work place. Read all about the way TTC is changing the way we all thing about MHI Click Here To Visit Website
  10. Shout is a 24/7 UK crisis text service available for times when people feel they need immediate support. By texting ‘SHOUT’ to ‘85258’ a Texter will be put in touch with a trained Crisis Volunteer (CV) who will chat to them using trained techniques via text. The service is designed to help individuals to think more clearly and to take their next steps to feeling better. Shout was publicly launched in May 2019, after a year long pilot phase. It is based on the successful US model Crisis Text Line. Shout is part of Mental Health innovations (MHI), which was founded in November 2017. MHI was set up following the success of The Royal Foundation’s ‘Heads Together’ campaign, which identified how utilising digital platforms and tools has huge potential to offer support services to individuals struggling with their mental health. Click Here To Visit Website
  11. Brian

    Mind

    MIND are the foremost Mental Health Charity in Britain.They provide free support and care for thousands of people experiencing all forms of Mental Health. They campaign to improve services,raise awareness and promote understanding.For more than 70 years MIND have been committed to making sure that everyone experiencing MHI has the support and care they need. Now Mind has teamed up with National Chefs Union in supporting chefs across the UK.You can find out all about MIND and the fantastic work the do... Click Here To Visit Website
  12. 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.
  13. 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 the school systems 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.
  14. During a lecture for my degree in addictions therapy the tutor said that there were certain professions that have a higher rate of addiction than others, chefs were mentioned as one of those. No surprise then that in a class of twelve students, two of us had been chefs for over 20 years and had our own past substance misuse issues. Following that, during my experience working in residential rehabs I noticed quite a few clients were or had been chefs in the past. This got me thinking, I knew why I used to drink when I was a private chef, the pressure, the control, performance anxiety and need for perfection were all factors, but I wondered why it was that chefs as a group had higher instances than the general population of potentially harmful alcohol and drug use. It seems the idea that chefs and substances are a perfect pairing has always been there, there were the drunken chef stereotypes even before television brought the early celebrity chefs to our living rooms, with a glass in one hand and a spatula in the other. Then, twenty years ago Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” brought the industry’s dirty little secrets to the public eye, the exposure of the drug and drink fuelled kitchen culture didn’t do anything to stigmatise it, to the contrary, it seemed to glorify and normalise it and attracted a small army of celebrity hopefuls happy to be part of the macho anything goes kitchen culture. “it’s wrong, but “look at what I can do and what I can handle when I just have a few drinks / bump/ speed etc to get through service, then just have a splif to wind down and get some sleep so I can do it all again next shift.” I think we all know that there is a high level of Alcohol and Drug use and misuse in the profession, and the question is why? Research has found that hospitality employees have significantly higher rates of risky alcohol and illicit drug use compared to other industries (Berry et al., 2007; Roche et al., 2008) and an Australian study found that hospitality employees are up to 3.5 times more likely than other workers to use alcohol or drugs at work or to attend work under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Pidd et al., 2011) and parallel research indicated that the prevalence of drug and alcohol misuse use among trainee chefs appears notably greater than the rates for the general population of the same age (Pidd et al., 2014). There are a couple of schools of thought as to what factors contribute to this, one is that the users are mentally or physically predisposed to use substances, that they have an “addictive nature. The other is that it’s the environment that fosters the desire to use substances, in other words individuals use substances to deal with the pressures of the job, the stress, the heat, irregular hours, pressure, lack of sleep etc. Adding to that, staff often report high levels of on the job bullying and sexual harassment, ( Roche, Pidd, & Kosta- dinov, 2014,) so they may resort to using drugs and /or alcohol to reduce tension and cope with stress associated with this (Murray- Gibbons & Gibbons, 2007) . Another factor to consider is availability, most kitchens have adjacent bars/pubs and staff may be bought drinks, or the culture might be that its ok to drink a few beers during service or clean down. Workplaces may be located in an area where its relatively easy to obtain drugs or co-workers have a ready supply. Then, in accordance to social norms theory, peoples’ assumptions regarding acceptable levels of substance use based on un-written rules, mirroring collectively agreed-upon behaviours, attitudes and beliefs (Zhu et al., 2011). In other words, it is the monkey see, monkey do culture of “it’s no big deal, everyone’s doing it” … and so, before long almost everyone is. In some work places there is a tradition of a couple of free drinks after service, and sometimes a few drinks after service continues on to other venues, and chefs catch up on a social life they would otherwise wouldn’t have, the cycle continues the next night and you are wondering how to get through service! If you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, or just do what everyone else is doing right? Obviously, this is not the case in every kitchen but it's interesting how substance use became so accepted in the industry, But in the past couple of years it has been highlighted as something that is no longer acceptable, facilitated by some prominent chefs going public with their mental health and substance misuse issues and making real moves to change the axiom of turning a blind eye to substance use, and what can be a toxic work culture that results in some chefs relying on substances to function. There has been a number of peer support groups emerge to support those experiencing issues, Facebook groups and education re recognising those with poor mental health etc., also, an excellent US web page called “chefs with issues” In an interview with The Guardian newspaper in 2017, a year before his death Anthony Bourdain opened up about his regrets, shame, and what he called his "unhappy soul" Bourdain reflected on his chaotic life in the kitchens, saying he had finally "put aside my psychotic rage, after many years being awful to line cooks, abusive to waiters, bullying to dishwashers. It’s terrible – and counter-productive – to make people feel idiots for working hard for you.” He also had acknowledged that he struggled with drug addiction and had a history of heroin use. (Bourdain's body was found in his hotel room in France. He is believed to have killed himself) So, regardless of whether you are a newly qualified chef or veteran you will most likely come across the issue of substance use and its effects on your team. What we aim to do here is to provide resources to understand the issue and the ripple effects, from morale, lost productivity, health issues and workplace culture to recognising the signs when you or a colleague needs support, and where to get help and what’s available. REFERENCES Berry, J. G., Pidd, K., Roche, A. M., & Harrison, J. E. (2007). Prevalence and patterns of alcohol use in the Australian workforce: findings from the 2001 National Drug Strategy Household Survey. Addiction, 102(9), 1399e1410. Murray-Gibbons, R., & Gibbons, C. (2007). Occupational stress in the chef profession. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 19(1). Pidd, K., Roche, A. M., & Buisman-Pijlman, F. (2011). Intoxicated workers: findings from a national Australian survey. Addiction, 106(9), 1623e1633 Pidd, K., Roche, A. M., Fischer, J. A., & McCarthy, C. (2014). Risky behaviours, risky work settings: the alcohol and drug consumption patterns, health and well- being of commercial cookery trainees. Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, 30(2), 301e311. Pidd.K Roche.A. kostadinov.V. Trainee chefs’ experiences of alcohol, tobacco and drug use. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management. V 21. Dec 2014, 108-115 Roche, A. M., Pidd, K., Bywood, P., & Freeman, T. (2008). Methamphetamine use among Australian workers and its implications for prevention. Drug and Alcohol Review, 27(3), 334e341 Roche, A. M., Pidd, K., & Kostadinov, V. (2014). Trainee chefs' experiences of stress, bullying and coping in commercial kitchens. Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, 30(2), 259e269. Zhu, J., Tews, M. J., Stafford, K., & George, R. T. (2011). Alcohol and illicit substance use in the food service industry: assessing self-selection and job-related risk factors. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research, 35(1), 45e63. Anthony Bourdain: ‘I put aside my psychotic rage, after many years being awful to cooks’ | Anthony Bourdain | The Guardian WWW.THEGUARDIAN.COM The chef and author on encountering vichyssoise aged nine, practical jokes with his sous chef, and learning to take food less seriously
  15. For too many years now our Industry has been plagued by the crazy notion that some sort of recreational drug or liquid crutch will get chefs “through the day” and that they “need” those items in place to be the chef that they are or want to become ?? Yet repeatedly our Union sees the massive result in the scrapheap of chefs who thought that drugs, alcohol and even Caffeine drinks were the answer to their pressures and workload. There are so many that contact us who “used” to be a chef, with the same story. We even encounter Ex-offenders who once again tell us how the pressures of the job, drove them to substance mis-use and then into crime, one-minute working on their dream, the next involved in a nightmare. All aspire to be great chefs, all look to their hero’s, the classic legends who crafted our profession, Escoffier, Bocuse, Mossiman, Blanc etc, we all have our favourites. But few chefs stop to question just HOW these great chefs got through their days of stress, without a joint to calm them down or twenty cans of Red Bull for them to do their job?? Maybe they can’t understand that the greatest of chefs just don’t need stimulants, that the love of their craft, their own drive and commitment and the “natural high” they get from being in one of the greatest professions in the world is all they need to get them “through the day “? It’s all so easy to criticise, I know that, but as a chef who has worked for the last 46 years and still puts in 70 hours with more pressures and stress then you can ever imagine, without anything thing more than uplifting than a cup of tea of tea, I often wonder just why such chefs need to be in our industry at all ? If they really need such artificial props to survive the rigours of the day, are they really the chefs we need in this industry, shouldn’t they just get out of it?? Easy to say but mis-use is now so rife that it must now be considered a serious threat to safety and a massive disincentive to many youngers wanting a career as a chef. The foolish belief that you need drugs to be a good chef, or that you need drugs in your kitchen to make it “groove” is just the biggest load of hype this industry has ever seen and time we all “called out” drug taking in kitchens, those that use them, those that sell them and also those that turn a blind eye. Of course, as an industry we need to support those who truly need it,and Unichef will always stand by those with MHI who feel drugs like Cannabis ease their stituation, but the recreational mass acceptance that drug taking at work is "normal" needs to change. If someone was drunk on duty, its gross misconduct, and an instant dismissal, but someone having a joint or a line at work is somehow more acceptable ? In Post Pandemic Britain, Drug Free Kitchens must now be the norm.Perhaps drug testing at work should become more standard practice than it is at present and perhaps this is our chance to rid kitchens of substance mis-use and return our kitchens into a safe and healthy workplace environment. http://www.tuc.org.uk//themes/tuc_twig/favicon-32x32.png Drugs and alcohol in the workplace | TUC WWW.TUC.ORG.UK This guidance is intended to assist workplace reps in developing policies to deal with alcohol and drug problems in the workplace.
  16. Almost since the very early days of our Union, have we been warning of that the days of chefs being able to dominate, bully, harass and do as they please were numbered. Few have heard of the term, Vicarious Liability, but along with chefs now having to be Pharmacists, Scientists and Mathematicians, you will now need to be Lawyers and be very much aware of the pitfalls of this often used but seldom explained rule of law. Vicarious Liability is one of the two Laws of Civil Liability. The other, Direct Liability, is more often understood by chefs who understand that employers could be sued if someone is made ill by food kept in dangerous conditions or if they neglect health and safety laws etc. Vicarious Liability is the Employers responsibility for what their Employees say and do during the course of their work. Whilst normally Employers cannot be held accountable for your direct actions, they can be made liable for failure to take the appropriate action to either stop future incidents or the chefs continued actions, and the ultimate way of guaranteeing this is to dismiss the accused chef through gross misconduct clauses in their contracts. But why exactly should they need to resort to such extreme measures? It's simple, and yet so many fail to understand. The financial penalties for negligence on behalf of the Employer can now run into tens of thousands of pounds. If an employer fails to take decisive action over a complaint against the perpetrator, they stand accused of a lack due supervision in their legal Duty of Care to their employees, and indeed “turning a blind eye” can also apply to anyone in supervisory care, including Head Chefs. The action is indefensible, and Unions can do little about it so long as due process had be adhered to. So severe can the penalties be that dismissal is often the only course of action that a company’s lawyers will recommend, its final and decisive and the company escapes further claims. Chefs must also learn that their victims voice must be heard above all others and that because of the risk of Liability, employers must listen and support those who complain, not to do so may make them liable to further action ( from Unions such as ours ).So the accused’s word against someone else’s can be, and often is irrelevant. If the victim has a witness to what was said or done, the case is even more secure. So those chefs that believe they are “indispensable”, that they are so good at their job that they can say and do as they like in “their kitchen “ need to wake up and smell the coffee…very quickly The days of the most junior of staff members being able to take offence at what you say to them and see you on the dole are right here and happening right now and the cost of a loose tongue and a toxic attitude can be very, very costly.
  17. Brian

    Unichef Agenda 2021

    Naturally much of what we had planned for 2020 has now been forwarded to 2021.This has given us the chance to evaluate and enhance some of our programmes. Membership. Whilst membership has remained steady, we must continue to push the Union forward as much as possible and we will begin to use our Social Media platforms in a much more progressive manner to achieve this. Not on the Menu Our fight to gain equality and respect for our female chefs will be extensive in 2021 with a solid campaign and plans to bring on board Female Chefs and notable others to back up our fight. The Unichef Chef Wellbeing Programme Hopefully, this year we can gain access to college’s and schools to improve their understanding of the profession and their legal rights and responsibilities of themselves and their employers, and the philosophy of Chef Wellbeing. Heatstress Campaign. Our fight to have a statutory Maximum Working Temperature continues and hope full we can continue where we stopped in 2020 and revive the substantial progress and contacts that we made in 2020. Minister for Hospitality We will continue to support the massive campaign to achieve our own Minister for Hospitality. The Good Work Plan. Unichef will continue work together with The Director for labour Enforcement and hopefully our new Minister as the agreed proposals are implemented and achieve statute. Asthma Awareness Unichef will begin its programme of support for Asthma Awareness in all kitchens.
  18. Many reading this will be unaware, (as I was) about not only how difficult it can be being a chef with Asthma, but indeed just how dangerous it can be also. The tragic death this year of 19-year-old Lauren Reid at work in her kitchen in Glasgow has truly shocked all of us into learning more about Asthma and how we can both support our colleagues’ and raise awareness of this terrible illness. Of course, there are many causes and facets to Asthma and we are no experts, but we very much see Asthma as an increasing illness that seriously effects many Chefs in the UK and so Unichef has committed itself to bringing support, education, and awareness to the issue. Little is known of the effects of cooking with Asthma but a recent study in Norway has highlighted the dangers of inhaling Carcinogens and Acrylamides and often much more simple, everyday substances such as flour can be now considered a dangerous substance for many, and this research shows a clear increased risk of respiratory problems for chefs and Bakers who continuously inhale fumes and dust/flour. Indeed, there have been many study’s in the USA of the increased risks associated with long term use of Trans Fatty Acids and the effects of breathing hot cooking oil. We must now look at the long-term practises of frying and grilling which create such toxic atmospheres and begin to realise the effects they have not just on the closest worker but all those within the kitchen. Together with Laurens mum, Elaine Cunningham, we are now, in honour of Lauren, taking Asthma much more seriously and will now include Asthma in our Chef Wellbeing programs in the future and discuss the issue with chefs in much the same way as we do Mental Health and other health subjects. UK chefs and employers must all now begin to think and behave in a different way to the toxic environment that kitchens can be and look not only at the causes and effects of asthma but indeed look at preventing needless deaths such as Lauren Reid’s in the future by being more aware of the dangers and signs of distress. There is lots we can all do, and in Laurens name we need to start right now. Cooking fumes can create respiratory problems for chefs SCIENCENORWAY.NO Cooks live less long on average than people in most other occupational groups. Changes in their working environment could result in better health for many. Asthma UK | Homepage WWW.ASTHMA.ORG.UK Petition · Glasgow city council : #Lauren’slaw-asthma awareness · Change.org WWW.CHANGE.ORG #Lauren’slaw-asthma awareness
  19. UK’s top chefs urge government to appoint Minister for the Hospitality Industry and demands rightful representation in light of recent struggles. PRESS RELEASE (9 October 2020): Claire Bosi, Editor of leading hospitality publication Chef & Restaurant Magazine, brings together some of the nation’s best chefs and hospitality representatives in a petition urging the UK government to impose a Minister for Hospitality. The group, which includes world renowned chefs including Marcus Wareing, Angela Hartnett, Asma Khan and Tom Kerridge (additional names below), is calling for the appointment of a Minister for Hospitality to the UK government to ensure the representation of the interests of one of the country’s leading industries in Parliament. Responsible for around 3m jobs, generating £130bn in activity and contributing £38bn in taxation annually, the sector has been impacted heavily by Covid19 and the Government’s thoughtless policy and communication surrounding the pandemic. The group argues that, having a representative voice in Parliament, as the Arts and Sports sectors do, would have been beneficial during what has been an exceptionally trying 6 months for the sector. Lockdown and the government’s contradictory communication around it was the start of many difficulties for the industry, with the introduction of a curfew across the country the latest. With no representation in Parliament, the government was ill-equipped to assess the potential damages of its policy, or the ways in which these might have been mitigated. Commenting on the petition, Claire Bosi said: “2020 has been detrimental for our entire sector. Policy has been made and unmade without consulting those that are impacted most. Our country is renowned for having a hospitality sector that is synonymous with excellence, innovation, and inspiration. As such a vital part of both the country’s economy and reputation, it seems fair that we, like other sectors, are given a representative voice in Parliament. We need a Minister who can listen to concerns on taxation and legislation and bring forward our suggestions to policy makers on our behalf. This is about efforts to secure our industry’s success in the future". Among the expansive group of industry figures supporting the petition are: - Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality - Angela Hartnett, Chef Restaurateur behind Michelin-starred Murano, and the Café Murano group (London) - Marcus Wareing, World-renowned British chef behind Michelin-starred Marcus at The Berkeley Hotel (London) - Asma Khan, Chef and Owner of Darjeeling Express (London) - Mark Birchall, Lancashire-born chef behind two Michelin-starred Moor Hall Restaurant with Rooms (West-Lancashire) - Tom Kerridge, British chef behind two Michelin-starred The Hand and Flowers (Marlow, Buckinghamshire) amongst other restaurants in London and across the UK - Andi Oliver - Founder of pop-up brand Andi’s Wadadli Kitchen, television & radio broadcaster & food writer - Michel Roux Junior and Alain Roux, Chairmen of prestigious world-renowned culinary competition, The Roux Scholarship, and sons of key culinary figures Michel and Albert Roux - Clare Smyth, Chef Owner of two Michelin-starred Core by Clare Smyth (London) - Mike Reid, Culinary Director for M and Gaucho Restaurants - Paul Ainsworth, Cornwall champion behind Michelin-starred Paul Ainsworth at No.6, as well as other hospitality businesses in the region - Neil Borthwick, Head Chef at The French House, Soho (London) - Zoe Adjonyoh, Chef-writer, founder of Black Book and Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen (London) - Richard Corrigan, Irish Restaurateur, and owner of The Corrigan Collection (London) - Atul Kochhar, Chef and Entrepreneur - Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby, Wahaca Co-founders - Tommy Banks, Chef Owner of The Black Swan Oldstead and Roots, York (North Yorkshire) - Andrew Wong, Chef Owner of Michelin-starred A.Wong (London) - Sally Abe, Head Chef at Michelin-starred The Harwood Arms (London) - Patrick Powel, Executive Chef at Allegra (London) - Dom Fernando, Owner of Paradise (Soho) - Anna Haugh, Chef Patron of Myrtle (London) - Sam Buckley, Chef Patron of Where The Light Gets In (Stockport) - Allan Gage, Owner of Sweet & Chilli and Nine Lives Bar (London) - Lisa Goodwin-Allen, Executive Head Chef of Northcote (Lancashire) - Brad Carter, Chef Patron of Michelin-starred Carters of Moseley (Birmingham) - Rik Campbell and Will Bowlby, co-founders behind London-based modern Indian restaurant group, Kricket - Mark and Alan Wogan, co-founders of London-based pizza group, Homeslice - Chantelle Nicholson, Chef Patron of Tredwells (London) - Gary Hunter, Deputy Executive Principal at leading hospitality school Westminster Kingsway College (London) - Galton Blackiston, Owner and Michelin-starred chef of Morston Hall country house and hotel (Norfolk) - Ben Murphy, Head Chef of Launceston Place (London) - Glynn Purnell, Chef Owner of Michelin-starred Purnell’s (Birmingham) - David Moore, Owner of Michelin-starred Pied à Terre, Charlotte Street (London) - Kenny Atkinson, Chef Patron of Michelin-starred House of Tides (Newcastle) - Frances Cottrell-Duffield, Tonic Communications, Managing Director - Will Murray, Jack Croft and James Robson, co-founders of recent London opening Fallow on Mayfair’s Heddon St (London) - Gordon Ker, Founder of Blacklock Restaurants (London) - Michael Wignall, Chef Patron of The Angel at Hetton (Yorkshire) - James Waltera, Owner of Arabica (London) - Gavin Adair, CEO of Rosa's Thai Cafe (London) - John Devitt, Owner of Koya (London) - Amy Poon, Owner of Poon's London - Tanith West, Bone Daddies, Marketing Manager - Aurelien Mouren, Operations Director for Gold Notting Hill (London) - Simo, Executive Director at Milroy’s (London) - Michelle and Matin Miah, Co-Owners of Rudie’s Jerk Shack (London) #Minister4Hospitality
  20. Brian

    Yes Minister!

    The current online petition for the Hospitality Industry to have its own Government Minister is growing by the day. There has been much astonishment that such an important thing has never been suggested before, such is the enormous success and importance the industry plays in the lives of Britain that we have been simply too busy in the past to ever have thought it necessary. Pandemics, however, change everything, and the devastating impact the restrictions have had on our industry will be felt for many years to come. Never has there been a more crucial time in Hospitality for it to have representation and its own voice in the corridors of Government and our appeal is now being heard by many politicians across the political spectrum, and a view strongly help by North West Durham MP Richard Holden who has joined with The National Chefs Union to help push forward this unique proposal. As a struggling student Richard worked as a waiter and knows the industry well and supports wholeheartedly Unichefs stance for not only better working conditions but a say in the future of our industry. He knows also that we need our own Minister if we are to successfully implement the Governments "flagship" legislation, The Good Work Plan. Truly, our industry has changed, but we now have the chance to move forward and make it better for those who still love working in it. It is in everyone’s interest to sign this petition and see that we now have our very own Hospitality Minister to look after our interests and our future. http://petition.parliament.uk//assets/os-social/android/icon-192x192-ef97932d4e5a23a1c0758162d7d29c9dc7e27da4b282295a9485a28c235c98a6.png Petition: Create a Minister for Hospitality in the UK Government PETITION.PARLIAMENT.UK The UK hospitality industry. Responsible for around 3m jobs, generating £130bn in activity, resulting in £38bn in taxation. Yet, unlike the Arts or Sports, we do not have a dedicated...
  21. From time to time in catering, something comes along that revolutionises the way we work. You can think of things like Maltodextrin or even Rational Ovens, but something much more important is about to change the way we work in this industry forever. “Onesided Flexibility” is soon to become outlawed in catering and heralds a change in the relationship between Employer and Employee of seismic proportions, but what exactly is Onesided Flexibility? In short, it’s a working relationship that sees the benefit mainly for the Employer, onesided. The obvious example in our profession would be Split Shifts. This Victorian practice of work where your entire day is spent on work, but you are only paid for the hours you do, or even worse still the abhorrent practise of AFD shifts of 12hrs plus, these practices save the employer money but abuses our social and mental welfare. Soon both of these practises will cease, and Employers will be forced to realise that shifts MUST benefit both sides in order to create a good working relationship. There will also be adjustments to Zero Hours working and Employers will soon have to adjust their contracts to ensure that you have a balanced work schedule with a minimum set day/hour rota pattern for both parties to adhere to. The vile practice of cutting shifts without notice or even worse in the middle of a shift when things become slow will also be abolished as the government have recognised the importance of workers being able to sustain rent and a mortgage and so must be able to rely on a dependable work structure. There will also be a national system of whistleblowing and reporting so that employees will, for the first time ever, be able to deal with issues directly and in confidence. Employers must stop exploiting chefs in the way they have for many decades. The Government’s vision of a fairer way of working in partnership with Employees must now be embraced by all and The National Chefs Union will be playing a big part in shaping that future. The Pandemic has made everyone realise that the system of work in Catering is broken and that if we are to attract a better, fitter workforce then we need to attack the core issues of exploitation within our profession. In the very near future we need to offer our young chefs, a brighter, safer, and more rewarding career than at present. A career free from intimidation and exploitation, a career that shows the best of what we can do, with time to spend with our friends and family, a career that is caring of its workforce and a career that is secure and forward thinking. All of this is possible and within our reach. The Good Work Plan will ensure a fairer, decent way of working for all of us in the very near future.
  22. Many have heard of terms such as subconscious sexism, racism, and ageism. Those inner most thoughts that we rarely see come to the surface but are often in the backs of people’s minds. Indeed, our actions, even with the best of intentions are now considered as our true feelings. The theory behind this being that if we say or do something that is now socially unacceptable even though we adamantly deny such thoughts then it is our subconscious feelings coming forward, in fact our “true selves” This theory is then echoed into the handbooks of many employers, governed by overzealous HR consultants who in fear of litigation cover their employers by submitting to this theory. So then, that must surely give way to the actions of employers also? Is how they behave and act towards their employees often an indication of subconscious behaviour and is the practice of inhuman and socially unacceptable work pattens just subconscious exploitation? Isn’t it time that acts such as 12-14-hour shifts, constant weekend working, all day long shifts and unpaid tasks can now be seen as exploitation even though we have accepted such conditions for many years. Perhaps now is the moment to wake up and realise that when we are asked to give more than we are paid for on the grounds of “duty” or “teamwork” then this is simply the subconscious action of an exploitative employer or manager. Should we all now be aware that going that extra mile or doing that extra shift, is just guilt tripping us into free labour and that we should now stand firm on the exploitation that is systemic is catering, and in reality hasn't it always been that way since our very first day in catering and isn't Contracted Hours simply the epitome of exploitation? If the Pandemic has taught us one thing it is surely that all employees are disposable, we are asked to “take one for the team” but has the team ever taken one for us? https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/766187/good-work-plan-printready.pdf
  23. As head of Unichef and a working chef, there are few things that annoy me more than the subject of pay errors. When someone has worked hard all month and is looking forward to their pay, is it not too much to ask that it be correct? We are expected to perform to the best of our ability so why not the payroll clerks? Whilst we suffer the wrath of Head chefs and mangers for making mistakes in our daily work, is anyone ever actually reprimanded for making mistakes in our payroll? I think you will find that the answer is no. HR and payroll are virtually a law unto themselves in many companies and rarely come under fire for their poor performance and mistakes, it is little wonder so many chefs mistrust a system that should be there to protect them but is often seen as being biased in what they do and say. Most annoyingly of all is the undoubted fact that anyone they deem of being “important” such as the MD ,Senior Managers and even themselves will be getting priority treatment over their payments, somehow I doubt that there is ever a pay mistake made in the Managing Directors wages at Compass Catering do you ? http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk//static/images/apple-touch-icon.png Problems getting paid WWW.CITIZENSADVICE.ORG.UK What to do if your pay is wrong, money has been deducted from your wages, or you haven't been paid. Of course not all employers are like this, for example many Agencys pride themselves on paying on time and correctly as they know its a fundemental part of the way they work with chefs,that bond of trust is vital to both partys. Yet chefs, and kitchen staff are the ones most often effected by the mediocre performance of HR departments. I know in some kitchens it's such a regular event that even bets are placed as to who’s turn it is for a pay error? This appalling practice needs to be called out, We deserve better and should be demanding better from those who are paid to support us, paid to be correct and paid to make sure we get what we’ve worked so hard for all month. They seem oblivious to the real harm they do in their costly mistakes, constantly blame the computer and vow to put it right next month! Next month? how about today? How about right now? People get paid to make sure you get paid on time and correctly and if they are not doing that then they need to be held to account.If you dont do your job correctly you face discipline,its high time attitudes changed in HR departments and realised that paying people correctly and on time is a primary objective to thier work and not just a chore.
  24. So, what’s NOT on the menu? Imagine if you can, that you are a female chef and you wear your button or your t-shirt with pride, the slogan saying #Notonthemenu. The answer is simple, so simple that it stops people right in their tracks and will forever change their view of how they treat you. That answer is me. I’m not on the menu! nor is my body, my gender, or my sexuality! “Yeah, right. That’s cool” comes the reply. It will only happen once, when they finally get the idea that you ARE an equal, you are a colleague, and yes you are a chef. The idea started in America, and comes from years of female oppression in kitchens, and a final realisation that there must and will be changes; 2021 will become the focus of a concerted campaign by Unichef, The National Chefs Union to finally rid our own kitchens of this vile and systemic abuse of our female colleagues. #Notonthemenu looks at the history and the reverence of women in British Cookery, their contribution, and the exciting and often inspirational contributions that they have made and will continue to make in kitchens across our country. Our aim is to educate all chefs into a new and fresh culture that accepts people as they are, as professionals doing a professional job, and to help everyone understand that our kitchens are NOT bastions of a male preserve but are in fact “our office” our place of work, where we should all feel safe, secure and protected and where our genders should never come into question.“Our office” should be just like any other modern working environment, we should work by modern recognisable standards towards our colleagues. Banter and fun, being the butt of sexual talk and jokes, hugging and “love in the kitchen” is all eighties tolerability that no longer belongs in the 21st Century. As chefs we beg for the latest equipment, the best of facilities and stress to our bosses to get with it and use modern techniques, yet so many of our chefs are still in the last century when it comes to recognising the equality of women in kitchens and yet no one would ever treat their wives, girlfriends or mothers in that way. We can’t only blame chefs either. Our industry is plagued with male dominated companies and a hugely male oriented media obsessed with the latest “Cool Chef” when there has not been any since Gary Rhodes. And yet TV cooking shows are STILL dominated by men! Is it any wonder then that our young chefs still grow up believing that men are the better chefs, if only through numbers? The time for change is now, the time to look at how we really treat women in our kitchens and ask ourselves “can we do better”? Can we bring respect and equality back into our kitchen, not only for their sake but for ours too, as treating all people with respect makes us all better chefs.
  25. Brian

    Not On The Menu

    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.
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