Stay calm, fo­cused and dis­ci­plined

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Food and Drink -

In the last three years Peter­bor­ough has seen a 36% growth in ca­sual din­ing restau­rants, and in the last 18 months I’ve been think­ing more and more about the fu­ture of the restau­rant in­dus­try and the next gen­er­a­tion of chefs – what is there to be ex­cited about? And what should we be wary of? How do make sure this growth con­tin­ues?

One thing to be happy about is that the ‘Gor­don Ram­say Chef’ is dead. The time of an­gry, foul-mouthed rants from chefs is com­ing to an end – there’s enough heat in the kitchen as it is.

In fair­ness to Gor­don Ram­say, we all know a lot of that was for the cam­eras, and he has al­ways shown a side that is will­ing to teach, care and sup- port. Head chefs are start­ing to re­alise that it is these traits that pro­vide the best re­sults from their staff – a calm ap­proach, strong fo­cus and dis­ci­pline.

Train­ing has be­come in­te­gral to the in­dus­try’s fu­ture, with 51% of cater­ing col­leges see­ing en­rol­ments drop. By 2020, we’ll need a pre­dicted 11,000 new chefs (Peo­ple 1st). The end of the ‘An­gry Chef’ era has co­in­cided with the need for head chefs to nur­ture and men­tor their staff more than ever.

I was lucky enough to be­gin train­ing at 17 at Peter­bor­ough Re­gional Col­lege, where I was able to se­cure an ex­change to the French city of Poitiers – an eye-open­ing and rev­o­lu­tion­ary ex­pe­ri­ence. I do my best to sup­port my staff in the same way; we have taken on an ap­pren­tice at Prévost this year and in the past I’ve sent chefs to ev­ery­thing from choco­late work­shops to learn how to make truf­fles to bak­ery cour­ses at West­min­ster Col­lege, Lon­don.

An­other pos­i­tive and in­no­va­tive trend that is grow­ing in the in­dus­try is the in­tro­duc­tion of 4-day work­ing weeks for chefs. The two-star Miche­lin restau­rant, Sat Bains, in Not­ting­ham has been a leader in this – pro­vid­ing chefs with a bet­ter work-life bal­ance that means they’re more pro­duc­tive, happy and driven.

In all of this how­ever there are some things to be wary of. With the need for chefs so high, there’s a temp­ta­tion to fast-track young chefs to the top – but this can be dan­ger- ous. A lot of young chefs chase a big­ger salary in detri­ment to their train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence. The best chefs have manned ev­ery sta­tion in the kitchen at one point in their ca­reer. It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber the graft is linked to the gain – and the more you graft the more com­fort­able and con­trolled you will feel when you fi­nally step up to the pass.

I am tak­ing part in the Cel­e­bra­tion of Youth Day in Peter­bor­ough on Au­gust 20 – and with any luck I might en­cour­age a bud­ding chef. If I do, I hope they’ll see that I only got to where I am to­day be­cause of the sup­port and men­tor­ship of the chefs around me. Lis­ten, take op­por­tu­ni­ties and work hard - and when you can, pass the same mes­sage on to those who look up to you.

Lee Clarke Head chef at Prevost, Pri­est­gate, Peter­bor­ough www.pre­vost­peter­bor­ @foodleeclarke

Gor­don Ram­sey

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