It’s not getting better. Over the past few days, two first person accounts of recent abuse inflicted by macho, misogynistic chefs, one in a successful high end food store, the other in the resort kitchen of a top hotel company. This after hearing 2 weeks ago of the chef at a popular Wellington Street bistro who threw a plate and hit a 38-year-old cook in the head. The injured cook on the receiving end is suffering ongoing dizziness typical of a serious head injury, and guilt (she screwed up the sauce) common among abuse victims (so much so that she lied to the doctor treating her about the cause of the injury).
There’s a subculture within our industry in which it’s o.k. to create an environment of violence, fear and intimidation. And it’s not just on Wellington Street. All over the globe (and throughout the GTA) screaming, cursing, threatening chefs are trampling human dignity and human rights. Talented former colleagues have left their positions because they “couldn’t take” it. I’ve witnessed some top restaurateurs exhibiting behaviour which would make Gordon Ramsay proud.
Gordon should be proud. Hey, I’m not in the habit of watching tv, so just went online and checked out about 5 minutes of clips from Ramsay’s popular series. These included the chef verbally berating kitchen staff (“shut the f_ up; fat useless sack of_; I don’t give a f_ you understand”), kicking equipment, breaking plates, striking tables violently with his fist, and more intimidating antisocial antics. Not a big surprise to those of you who have watched the shows, but in the real, non-television world, not o.k.
I’m sure there are a few wackos out there who take a cue from the murderous, violent and horrible behaviour portrayed every day by Hollywood, however I suspect very few. What makes it alright back here in the real world to emulate Hell’s Kitchen?
Mistreatment of staff does not lead to better food. The bistro chef who threw the plate at the cook’s head should be charged with assault. Lionising the likes of Gordon Ramsay makes for good entertainment and miserable souls.
©copyright 2011 Christopher Klugman, All Rights Reserved