It’s a Grey Area. Blog by KnifeofBrian

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th February 2017

Brian Powlett, head chef at the Greyhound in Ipswich and owner of Knife of Brian Cookery & Catering, explains why we shouldn't overlook someone because of their age.  

As we rolled into January 2017 we had daily phone calls from kitchen porters calling in sick or just not turning up. We decided it was time to advertise for someone who could be consistent. We only wanted someone to cover the lunch sessions, four or five weekdays each week. Personally, I thought this would be ideal for a parent with young kids at school, as the hours were only 11am to 2.30pm. Ideal for school out time. I hadn’t considered the response I actually received.

It was a good week before anyone replied to the advertisement. The reply came from a gentleman who stated that he had recently moved to the area and was bored at home a lot of the week. He was looking for a reason to get out of the house. Oh, and he was in his late 70’s.

He had also stated that he was very active for his age. I didn’t hesitate to invite him in for a chat. Outside of the kitchen I am a member of Ipswich Jaffa running club. I am by no means a super athlete but I like to call myself a consistent middle of the pack runner. But this aspect of my life has taught me many things. One of which being, age is not but a number. I have been beaten regularly in races by ladies and gentlemen of all ages. So for this man to say he was active and able was all I needed to hear.

Like I said, I invited him in for a chat and showed him the small kitchen where he’d be working. He was unfazed and looked like he quite fancied the challenge. I made him an offer which he accepted. Four days a week to start with, which he was more than happy with.

Straight away. Day one. You could see this man had a work ethic which would be a real asset to the kitchen. Organised, clean and thorough. A real godsend. I’m not going to assume he finds it easy but he’s been with us a few weeks now and he seems to be enjoying it. Not the job necessarily, but the work environment. He is regularly involved in the kitchen banter. Although we do adjust some of our low level jokes out of respect for our elders. There are only so many jokes about balls and phallic drawings any man needs to see or hear. I am currently very happy with how this is working out. At only a few weeks in he has settled and found his rhythm. This post was normally filled by students or the bar staff who were looking for extra hours. The sink is no easy job. As any chef knows, the kitchen Porter is probably the most important member of any food establishment. If they are no good the whole service goes down. We’ve had no problems like this so far.

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This post is not meant to patronise and I hope that comes across. I know there are a lot of people in the same situation as our newest staff member. We live in a world where discrimination is writhe. More than ever in fact. You just need to look at recent news headlines to see what I mean. I say to you, as chefs, managers and restauranteurs. Do not overlook someone because of their age. Let the individual decide whether they can do the job. They will let you know. Embrace the opportunity to work with someone who will add another dimension to the environment. This gent may stay for a month, a year or whatever. But I hope this gives you food for thought.

Brian Powlett
Brian Powlett

Knife of Brian is head chef at the Greyhound Ipswich and Knife of Brian Cookery & Catering. He supports CALM (campaign against living miserably) male suicide charity and has just finished his first pop up event at the Suffolk Show and would be a gigolo if he wasn't a chef.

For more blogs like this from Knife of Brian visit his websitewww.knifeofbrian.co.uk

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th February 2017

It’s a Grey Area. Blog by KnifeofBrian