@leanochef Blog (part 2)

The  Staff Canteen

By Patrick Leano

Chef at Mosimann’s, The Capital Hotel, Hibiscus, The Fox & Grapes. Stagier at Noma, Le Chateaubriand, Asador Etxebarri.

Missed part one?  Catch up here.

Many professions encourage people to gain international experience.  Expatriate packages are sought after and can be very lucrative if you’re in the right job. For us chefs it’s not like that.  For a start, most of us don’t earn the big bucks.  Most times we make the decision to move abroad ourselves, we pay for it ourselves and we have little to no support when we arrive. But we also know that we will get incredible experiences. And unlike people on expat assignments, we don’t have to worry about what comes next. We will forge our own path, make our own opportunities and know that we are in control of our own destiny. That was exactly what it was like for me.  I arrived in London without ever having been here before, I didn’t know a single person but I had secured myself a job and knew in my heart that was enough. Upon arrival I had 72 hours to sort myself out before starting work! It was daunting, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. And I did it. I found a bedsit, I got myself a mobile and I figured out how to get to work. I had to trust that the rest would fall into place. Arriving at work on that first day was a shock. It was so serious in comparison to the kitchens I was used to. The staff were so young. These were people who left school as kids and grew up in kitchens, and almost everyone at Mosimann’s Club spoke German. (I was sure my plane had landed in London?!?!?) That was just the beginning. The products were so different from what we got at home. I hadn’t cleaned a chicken since culinary school! The food was so traditional; so precise. And it was way more competitive than any kitchen I’d ever worked in. It was also the first time I’d worked in a kitchen that could have featured in Kitchen Confidential. Toto, we’re not in Calgary anymore! But I had made my decision and I would live with it. From day one I started to learn German so that I could fit in with the team. I never became fluent, but I was good enough for the kitchen. I was also busy learning the system and the food. When I wasn’t at work, I was figuring out my way around London and trying to make friends. It was one of the most exciting times in my life. And in that chaotic kitchen, I made some of my best friends. The immediate lesson for me was home is where your heart is.  I loved that crazy kitchen, and while I knew I wouldn’t be there forever I knew it would be with me forever. And I was right. Every Chef I have worked for since has asked “what was it like there?”, “what’s he like to work for?” and “how is it different from here?”. I had been in my previous role for five years. I’d stopped learning in the classical sense and was doing more experimentation. But as soon as I arrived in the UK my learning started up again. It felt in a lot of ways like I was back in culinary school; it just felt so right. And while my learning curve is no longer quite as steep (or maybe it still is, who can say?!?!?!), I still make decisions about where to work on who can teach me the most. Being an expat is an exciting adventure and one I would recommend to any aspiring chef. Even one year abroad will change your life, so go for it. What have you got to lose?!
In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th July 2012

@leanochef Blog (part 2)