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The secret chef: 10 resolutions for the new year

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Our anonymous chef serves up 10 predictions (and hopes) for 2018

Shorter hours

When it comes to our industry it seems to make sense: where the world’s top kitchens go, the rest of us surely follow and in the majority of those, the 16-hour day’s days are numbered. We are finally waking up to the notion that being constantly exhausted does our mental and physical well being no good at all. With the likes of Rene Redzepi, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken, and the UK’s Sat Bains and Michel Roux all offering contracts of a 40-hour working week, you can bet that this is a trend that is sure to pervade the entire industry. Eventually.

Being nice

We’ve all heard, and experienced, kitchen horror stories of physical violence, emotional bullying, torturous conditions and head chefs ruling with an iron fist (that would commonly be found connecting with a young commis chef’s face). It would surprise few of us if next year even delivered more of our own ‘Harvey Weinstein’ moments, with Mario Batali being the tip of the iceberg, and perhaps a few lawsuits to boot. Thankfully, chefs who revel in a cult of terror are a vanishing breed – let’s make sure it stays that way.

Tipping will continue to be a hot topic

Perhaps Danny Meyer’s intentions were good. Perhaps we will fix the issue this year. Perhaps we will pay chefs a living wage. Perhaps in twelve months time we will still be talking about how to fairly remunerate those who cook and serve our food. I predict the latter.

Price increases

Partly in answer to the issues raised by the ‘tipping conundrum’, mostly as a result of a levelling out of prices that have been kept artificially low for a number of years.

Modern temperance

There are meals, tasting menus in particular, I have eaten where thanks to the vast quantities of wine consumed I’ve been unable to remember dessert until re-reading the menu the following day (complete with bleary eyes and foggy head). Sometimes I like to drink wine, sometimes I don’t and in the latter case I don’t want to be sipping on a Coke like an eight year old. Clever, properly thought out, grown-up soft drinks are happening.

Cook more vegetables

Meat is bad for us, and bad for the planet. The world of fruit, vegetables, pulses, grains and seeds is infinite (and infinitely exciting). Your customers are eating less meat: I suggest you respond in kind or that newly opened vegan restaurant down the street is going to be feeding an awful lot of your customers.

Use a plate

Novelty serviceware was almost cutesy. About 10 years ago. If you are still serving chips in a miniature fryer basket or mac & cheese in a tiny novelty urinal then please leave your apron and knives on the side on your way out.

Lose the challenges

A hamburger the size of a sofa cushion isn’t cool, it isn’t funny or even original. It’s crass, gluttonous and obscene.

Local doesn’t always mean good

It cannot make up for shortcomings in technique or ideas. Don’t dismiss ingredients just because they are grown far away – sometimes you have to search a little further afield to find the good stuff. Unless you are cooking in California, in which case carry on as you are.

Have a shave

By all accounts we hit ‘peak-beard’ at some point in 2017. 2018 is set to be the year all male chefs dust off the beard trimmer they were given for Christmas two years ago and instantly lose a decade off their perceived age.

 

The secret chef

 

Further reading:

Foodservice Consultant‘s Review of 2017 can be viewed here.