do films such as The Menu, Boiling point and The bear accurately depict the modern day kitchen and hospitality professional?

Alex South

Alex South

Editor

do films such as The Menu, Boiling point and The bear accurately depict the modern day kitchen and hospitality professional?

TV dramas such as The Bear, and films like Boiling Point and The Menu, have illustrated the intense fascination viewers have for hospitality dramas and what life is like working in a modern day kitchen.

Speaking to The Staff Canteen about the rapid rise of hospitality dramas, Celebrity Chef Eric Lanlard said: “It’s always good to see TV series or films about life in kitchens. Obviously, things have changed in recent years the pressure has lifted and mental health is a big thing in kitchens, and after Covid everybody is taking a step back and trying to keep the steam out of the kitchen and the restaurant floors.”

He added: “It’s great to showcase what’s going on in the kitchen in real life but at the same time we don’t want to scare young chefs looking to join the hospitality world, so I think we need the right balance. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve noticed life in the kitchen is tamer, a bit quieter, and everybody is a bit fitter, trying to get their mental health on point.”

Following recent news that Boiling Point would be returning as 5-part BBC TV series, Oliver Hunter, Chef at Penny Brohn UK said: “For all the hype it was like watching kitchens from the 90s. The drinking on shift, shouting at staff and then the coke in the office scene, who on earth was consulting them. Does this go on? Yes, but only in crap kitchens. It was endemic 25 [years] ago but high-performance kitchens don’t look like this anymore.”

Recognising the entertainment value of recent programmes and films, Scot Turner Founder and Managing Director of Auden Hospitality, said: “Boiling point as a drama was an amazing piece of television. As a showcase to the industry, it's terrible. I am not sure we need another run unless it comes with a different message.”

Patrick Tibbs, Senior Client Support Specialist at Foodbuy Australia, commented: “A good production but totally unrealistic. The levels of anxiety and stress vs how little was actually going on in the kitchen was hand over face stuff.”

Following the news of Boiling Point's return to the small screen, Kray Treadwell former Great British Menu competitor and Chef Owner of 670grams, posted his views on the subject looking back at his initial thoughts on the film.

 

In his post Kray said: "I was really excited when one of my favourite British actors Stephen Graham was playing a chef and a film about a restaurant. I must have seen a different film to everyone else as I feel the film was awful not just the cringing slang or the terrible acting from most but the film came out in a time where restaurants were struggling to get staff and recovering from the pandemic. All it showed was drugs, verbal violence, racism and mental health issues. Not saying these things don’t happen in restaurants but the industry has come so far from when I was 17 to now and I can promise you this is not how 99% of restaurants run."

Agreeing with him, Tom Shepherd Chef Owner of the Michelin-starred Upstairs by Tom Shepherd said: "Could not agree more mate, an extremely poor reflection of where our industry is right now and more importantly, the direction it's heading."

Instagram user Mark Johnson, replying to Kray, said: "The stupid thing is that there are so many interesting, clever and funny true stories in the restaurant and hospitality world that really could be used to make an excellent restaurant drama. the writers if this just haven't bothered to do any research and have brought zero credibility to something that should have been good!"

Chef Gavin Sniden replied: "More people need to say this. The way it portrayed our industry was actually insulting."

With another user commenting; "Felt like I was watching a collective panic attack slowly unfold over the evening, and agree, poor rep and timing for us all."

A CHANGED INDUSTRY

Whereas kitchens of the past were often toxic environments with bullying, drug abuse, and zero consideration for staff wellbeing, thanks to enormous changes from hospitality professionals these workplaces are no longer the norm. That's not to say they no longer exist and there is still a lot to be done to wipe them out completely.

Commenting on what the industry was like, Raymond Blanc OBE, Chef Patron of two Michelin-starred Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons, said: “Kitchens twenty years ago were toxic. It was normal to abuse young people and push them to their limits, it was a terrible anti-culture which we are paying a very high price now. It’s up to us to build something new, which we are.”

Explaining how the industry has changed, he added: “There are so many extraordinary British chefs who are connecting with farmers, with their culture, their local values, who are training, who are the best trainers. British chefs are connected with their culture, their food culture, their people culture. We are moving on towards a great future for this country, there’s no doubt about it. If we are able to teach and support chefs then they will stay with us and train and enrich other people’s lives.”

Agreeing with Raymond about the modern-day hospitality industry, Chef Simon Rogan, Founder of the Umbel Restaurant Group and Owner of the three Michelin-starred L’Enclume, said: “For me kitchens have massively changed. In the last five to six years, it’s really accelerated with those toxic types of kitchens no longer existing anymore. For us as a company, we like to promote from within, we have a heavy apprenticeship programme, we pay them well, we book them the right hours and they have a real satisfaction with their job."

He added: “It’s probably never been a better time to be in our industry. In the past, being in the hospitality industry in the UK has never been seen as a profession or an art form. I think the calibre of people coming into the industry now can very much see they can have a wonderful life, not just financially, but seeing the world and meeting amazing people.”

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 8th February 2023

do films such as The Menu, Boiling point and The bear accurately depict the modern day kitchen and hospitality professional?