Service: who needs it?
I hate Chef's programmes on the TV. I don't hate Chefs though. Reality programmes are designed to get conflict and stress going, that's what TV Producers need to get the programme watched, and who better than a top Chef to strike fear into the heart of the average human and get some conflict going?
Last night I watched the second programme in a new series called “Service”. It was about front of house staff in restaurants rather than back of house i.e. chefs. Now of course it's easy to see why more programmes are made about Chefs and cooking. You cook at home, you have to eat, but you don't really wait at table do you? So they can inspire you to cook better. But a TV programme about waiting in a restaurant? How refreshing, and I hope inspirational. After all, the service makes or breaks how the Chef's food is perceived, so why don't Chef's treat waiters with more respect? It needs to be mutual.
This programme involves Michel Roux, his world renowned fine dining restaurant Gavroche in London, and his ex Restaurant Manager Fred, who now runs Galvin's Windows, at the top of the Hilton, Park Lane. Between them they are taking on a bunch of young apprentices and proceeding to knock them into shape with the aim of getting a scholarship with the Academy of Food and Wine and a job at Gavroche. Hopefully by the end of the series, they will have succeeded with at least a couple of them. Of course, it was preposterous to allow this team to run a Zizzis Restaurant after apparently only 24 hours of coaching and an Indian one in Birmingham after a further 24 hours. But it is TV!
This programme will show that there's a lot more to restaurant work than just carrying plates. There is psychology, food and wine knowledge, manners, hygiene, body language, rigorous procedure, and ceremony and in some places not a little pomp.
Our industry employs about 2 million people in the UK. There are myriad jobs in the UK and around the world, and the prospects are great. There will always be a demand for catering staff, whether it be on cruise ships, hotels and restaurants, pubs, tea shops or cafes. Restaurant Managers in London, Fred said, can earn from £50K and £100K! Yes it's hard work, but it is also very rewarding. It is also still possible in this industry for someone with the right drive and ambition to start a small business and from little acorns mighty oaks do grow. Not many of the Managers in our industry are university graduates. They are people with many abilities, but passing academic exams was probably not one of them.
Of course this flies in the face of successive governments desire to push everyone through university, many ending up jobless and with a fatuous degree. But it makes sense because we should be developing people for jobs that are needed, not redundant degree graduates. When I left school I turned down the chance to go to university and I went to Catering College (a good old fashioned tech) and it doesn't seem to have done me any harm.
I hope this programme ends up influencing and encouraging more young people with potential to join this wonderful industry, let's hope lots of people watch it!