Everybody “tastes” are different even, when it comes to TV programs

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Reprinted from 2008.

I do not know about you, but I find that TV food programs with celebrity chefs using offensive vulgar language and publicly abusing people personally abhorrent for basic reasons.

I accept that everyone has the right to their own opinion, freedom of speech is important and every adult has the right to watch what they wish, however I still feel personally insulted by these programs. When celebrity chefs portray chefs as incapable of expressing themselves without the use of profanities and unable to coach staff without appalling abuse, genuine professional chefs and commercial kitchens have the potential to be considered by the public as “guilty by association” and consequently tainted by the same brush. It’s simple reality that a great deal of the general public are gullible enough to believe that these shows depicts the norm for a commercial kitchen and they demonstrate the customary “character” for a chef.

I turn off these shows as I have better things to do with my time, so why worry?

There are fundamentals here, people swear only when they have not mastered the ability to express themselves in the use of the English language and supervisors who abuse their staff in public show they are not experienced in people management.

In my opinion, chefs are as much "change agents", or in the business of motivating, teaching and developing their staff just as any other responsible manager of people. Any responsible and educated manager or professional chef know that they do not need to use foul language or socially unacceptable abuse to obtain a desired result.

I agree that commercial kitchens like any other environment, occasionally gets “hot” and irregular swear words are used and abused. Just as I am sure that doctors, nurses, ambulance officers, and even teachers are guilty of this “steam”. However its also a matter of self discipline, maturity and learning to appreciate that such behaviour is not appropriate in certain places, in public or particularly when you are representing an industry.

You do not go out in front of your clients and swear at them, nor would you accept profanities and abuse in Tafe training kitchens that are run commercially as a training environment for young cooks and chefs as kitchens are supposedly “high stressed environments”.

Even a couple of registered people have been permanently removed from salonculinaire.com for posting inappropriate material and writing unwarranted bad language.

Educated chefs learn to control themselves, they become skilled at controlling their temper, particularly in times of crisis, which we all know can happen in a kitchen.

A lot of younger chefs possibly may not also realise that it also took a great deal of effort and frustration by a lot of dedicated and passionate teachers and chefs over the past 20 – 30 years to finally convince the public to generally change their perceptions of a chef and accept that the vocation is a decent and professional one.

Literally we have gone through “eras of attitudes”

In very early days when a boy told his parents that he wished to become a “cook” there was a good chance that he was painted as the “poof in the family”. Then there was the prejudice against females in a commercial kitchen, as they were considered incapable of surviving the pressures of a commercial kitchen and anyway incompetent as cooks, let alone a “female leader” with their own kitchen, impossible!. Another perception was the era, where the public believed that chefs were constantly intoxicated and always had a “fag” in the corner of mouth.

All these myths have gradually been addressed by professional teachers and industry chefs and demonstrated not to be true and the perceptions have been fundamentally eradicated.

I ask, do celebrity chefs who swear and unacceptably abuse people potentially take us backwards?

It could be just another reason why young people are not entering a commercial cookery career in Australia. What parent in their right mind would want their child to join the cookery industry having seen programs that illustrate a “chef” as an appallingly supervisor. What intelligent young person would want to accept working in conditions where they could be offensively verbally abused in front of others.

What bad messages do these shows send out to the public about the cookery industry and the ability of chefs to responsibly deal with people.

Worse still, will this behaviour on TV attract the wrong personality to join the cookery industry? To add your own opinion to this article, please join the Salonculinaire.com group at LinkedIn where you can place your comments