A warm welcome to our guest blogger, Chef Andrew Walker.
Andrew has spent the last 30 years with the Compass group and is currently Executive Chef for Chartwells. In his own words, “It has been an absolute joy to work for an organization that has allowed me to be positively deviant.”
When Andrew was asked what he loves most about being a chef, he said "My team’s ability to create memories. How many jobs can you take delivery of an ingredient in the morning, work with it in the afternoon and then receive applause for the finished product in the evening?"
Andrew is not your regular Exec. Chef. Just one short conversation with him and you can tell he has a unique perspective on food and life. This uniqueness combined with Andrew’s immense expertise in event catering is why Lime Venue Portfolio have partnered with him. Lime Venue portfolio are known for unusual venues and unique experiences and now might be known for their unique chef too!
In his first blog Andrew shares his thoughts on Team building and bacon baps...
Hello, for me, the emperor of all chefs was Auguste Escoffier, a French chef, restaurateur and culinary writer who gave us far more than just his famous Peach Melba and Tornado Rossini. He understood the importance of individuality, not only personally but from his brigade around him.
He may not be a household name but one hundred years ago Auguste Escoffier changed the face of British cuisine. Escoffier was responsible for giving the world the partie system, a system of hierarchy still found in today’s great kitchens.
Each chef was given responsibility for their own section whether it was meat, fish, pastry, even the washing up. and it is where the term ‘Chef de Partie’ comes from. Escoffier divided up his kitchen staff into specialist groups or "parties".
Good kitchens often follow a standard hierarchy and can be somewhat military in how they operate which undoubtedly, gets things done, but truly great kitchens are made up of individuals with an ability to communicate in an environment of mutual respect. Escoffier recognised this all those years ago, replacing the word "l'aboyeur", meaning the person who "barked" the food orders, with ''annonceur" or the announcer. He knew when people communicate calmly, know their roles and come together amazing things can happen, whether that’s making a simple bacon sandwich or an extravagant croque en bouche.
The reason all chefs cook is to create enjoyment for their guests and as the great man himself said “good food is the foundation of genuine happiness.” We have one shot at achieving customer happiness, as a kitchen team we are simply judged by what we produce on the day, so it is so important we get it right every time. I believe this achieved through individual expertise, team work and a splash of love.
I want chefs to understand that individuals don’t have to be good at everything. The key to success is knowing what they are good at and make that one thing matter. Escoffier was great at making his ‘master sauce’; Albert Roux founded his Empire on the simple the Soufflé Suisse and Pierre Koffman will be remembered for stuffed pigs’ trotters. The point I’m trying to make is as an individual you don’t have to be great at everything. Successful people and cooks are good at one thing and use the team around them to help fill in the gaps. A good team always acknowledges other people’s great ideas and success. For chefs that starts with acknowledging the individuals in the supplier chain through to the customers themselves.
So, the next time you make a bacon sandwich think about the individuals; from the cow, to the farmer, to the butcher to the baker who have all individually helped you to make the best bacon sandwich ever, because the team of people that put these ingredients together deserve no less.
If you’re looking to develop your own team, take a look at Lime Venue Portfolio’s venues that have great spaces for team building activities here.
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