Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community – Anthony J. D’Angelo
It’s ironic that in an industry that’s all about feeding people, chefs often go without a substantial meal during the day. Staff food is the probably the only real nutrition that many chefs get. Tell me, honestly: do you make an effort or is staff food more of an afterthought in your kitchen?
The intention behind this article is not to blame and shame. Yes, quite often all you can offer is a meal out of stock you need to use up. It’s a given that when you’re struggling to stay afloat amidst time, staff and budget constraints, the less contingent issues get pushed to the back burner. But is the wellbeing of your team any less important to the success of your kitchen?
Here’s a great video by Simon Ladefoged which shows you the dedication that team Noma put into their ‘family meal’:
Now you might be tempted to say that it’s easy for one of the world’s most successful restaurants to embody this culture. But to me it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation: what if their success is thanks to the grounding that comes from doing even the little things well?
Bottom line is, look after each other on your team. Maybe you can’t do the fancy staff lunches. But start with a vision of what caring for each other looks like in your kitchen. Implement it step-by-step. Communicate your intentions to your chefs. They’ll do all they can to support you. And you can be guaranteed it will pay off because they’ll return to their work nourished, in both belly and heart.