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Chefs between past and present

Di Antonio Caneva, 21 Marzo 2013

It’s been quite a long time since chefs used to shout in the kitchen, but not long enough to radically alter a certain authoritarian approach that is still alive in some places.
A few years ago I went to one of the most striking hotels in the world, the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne, and the human resource manager pointed to the change in philosophy that had taken place in personnel management, by reminding me that – in replacing the chef who had just retired – they had sought a person who was good professionally, but had also got over some ancient habits, such as that of shouting in the kitchen.
Nowadays chefs have turned into stars; Cracco and Oldani are filling the newspapers, and are followed by hordes of fans asking for autographs. They are the tip of an iceberg, also living on communication and image, but is this what the whole world of cooking is like?
For example, talking with those in charge of recruiting personnel for pleasure ships, it appears that the executive chefs in the kitchens of large vessels (where hundreds of people may be employed) are very rarely Italian. Why? The reason is that kitchens employ people from all corners of the world, and the common language (there must be just one if a Babel tower is to be avoided) is English, but Italian chefs can rarely master this language.
The world is evolving, which has not gone unnoticed by the people concerned and the professional associations that represent them. It was therefore with great pleasure that last Saturday, invited by Carlo Romito, I participated in the final exam of the Master Chef FIC (Federazione Italiana Cuochi) course, recognised worldwide by WACS ( World Association of Chef Societies ) which certifies its curriculum on the basis of international standards. The course developed over several weeks in the classrooms and in the kitchen, and entailed the preparation of a dissertation.
It is a pleasant surprise to see (already established) professionals who allow themselves to be challenged and quietly participate in a course which also demands an economic effort, above all in terms of their time.
Like many other things that concern us all, this world, too, which seemed immutable until yesterday, is now evolving and subject to critical reconsideration.

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