As the newly nominated & elected Vice President my mandate first & foremost is to CCfC National & to its membership. However Chef Janik & I took the position’s wanting to help grow & implement change in the culture of our Jrs program. Through recent yrs the industry has started to by-pass & put aside the Certified Chef position replacing them with non qualified people this change has lead to substandard workmanship, putting in jeopardy our profession our professionalism & our accreditation system as well as our pay structure of what a Certified Chef should earn. There is a large institution that shall remain nameless whose Executive Chef made a decision to leave his position to make a progressive career move for a better paying & challenging one. Leaving room for a young Qualified Chef who had spent money & time staging through the system like so many of us, to one day be able to run a place of his own. Unfortunately this did not happen the job went to an un-qualified person who had been in the business just a little over 2yrs. As enthusiastic as he was, he had no health, safety or food handling knowledge. He was put in position to lead a small platoon of employees, that were catering & feeding over 600 people a day 5 days a week, no week-ends, no nights…..
Fast forward to 1 month ago I received a call from their food services manager. The inevitable had happened they let the Exec. Chef go. During his tenure this young enthusiastic young Chef had over 100 complaints of improperly cooked foods (Chicken Hamburgers fish etc;) expired products that had been re dated to extend there expiration date & countless other health & safety infractions over the course of that year…
I asked this Food services manager why he did not invest in a qualified Chef? His response was bold & arrogant…he would save over $40,000 in labour which lead him to go out & purchased 1 new Rational type oven which he could not afford to purchase because of his budgetary restrictions. Now that he got his oven he could go out & get a Certified Chef & everything would go back to status quo. Unfortunately that’s not all that happened.
#1. This young enthusiastic Chef was so disenchanted with the profession that he is no longer cooking
#2. 1 of the employees has filed a suit of sexual harassment
#3. 1 is home collecting medical compensation due to a grease fire.
#4. Business has dropped over 20% there is however one saving grace… The food & services Manager got his shiny new oven & was rewarded by his Co with a pay increase….Really….Come on Man!!!!!!!!! Is this what the industry & its paper pushers number crunchers are doing to us? Well our Ottawa chapter is here to stop the madness!!!!! We’ve stopped our Money bursaries to students that we will never see & replaced it to reward not 1 but the Top 10 cooks from a recognized culinary program who have made the dean’s list, with free membership, mentoring, staging & job placement for the first year. By doing so, we put them in a better position to succeed.By doing so we start to elevate the knowledge of our Jr. Membership. By doing so we increase our Jr membership & hopefully do so expediential through the yrs. By doing so we will be able to enter them in more competition’s whether its local regionally provincially Nationally or Inter-Nationally In increased membership we can start to be a little more assertive & adventurous & maybe go out & involve ourselves in Food Shows & special events
In closing I know that the President & myself share the same message but I don’t think we can say or scream it loud enough. In I hope that through our combined membership we can start to reverse the process which has devaluated the Chef position The Cook position & our whole Industry in General. We are also calling on all our National membership to do so if you haven’t done already.
Whether this story is true in whole or in part is for you to decide, but the implications are always the same.
Antonio C. Grande