Ishwariya Rajamohan

Ishwariya Rajamohan

Other 14th May 2019
Ishwariya Rajamohan


We’re always excited to read about the trends that we can look forward to, whether it’s new ingredients or the shiny new technology that’s going to shift how we run food businesses. But there are other shifts that are creeping up on us - ones that we’re not as enthusiastic to embrace.

As an industry that’s highly resistant to change. We always have our excuses at the ready - there’s never enough time or money. Even though they might bring much-needed benefits to our food businesses and all of us who work in hospitality. This article looks at what might exist beyond the horizon and how it might serve us.


The skills shortage has troubled us for decades in hospitality - in my research I found papers devoted to the subject from the late 90’s. Here in the UK, uncertainty over how Brexit will impact our industry means that we’re now forced to find immediate solutions.

The Centre for London recently undertook a study on what measures could be taken to encourage more people to take up the profession, as well as to retain existing talent. At the recent launch of their report, Chef Angela Malik, who advises the Mayor of London’s Food Board, asked us to re-examine the profile of a chef: the city has more than enough migrants who are willing to work in kitchens. But this is where we as an industry we will have to do some soul-searching and ask ourselves: how welcoming are we towards anyone who doesn’t fit the stereotypical mould of a chef?


As the deadline to curtail the effects of climate change draws closer, all of us will be expected to re-evaluate our impact on the environment. And we’ve had no shortage of inspiration - numerous pioneering chefs and restaurants have inspired us for decades with their sustainable practices. But what I hope we will now look at is this: how sustainable is our industry for those who work in it?

The earliest of chefs went above and beyond to impress their wealthy clients with their creations and capabilities. That same drive inspires us as chefs to push the frontiers of cooking today. But is this the time for some healthy pragmatism?

Isn’t it time to review how we work and what we create? Aren’t we responsible, in part, for the expectation that we create in our customers? For me the contrast is clear: an architect works to their client’s brief. Even though we’re eventually serving the public and their tastes, as chefs, we get to define what we create and how we produce it. Which also means that we create our own problems, in a way.


Leading on from the sustainability of our profession, it might be only a matter of time before our customers hold us accountable for how we treat our people in all respects - how we pay them, the environments they work in, the conditions they work under. We’re so conscious of the impression we create, and we have to really be mindful of how the truths about the restaurant industry often make for unsavoury headlines.

The food we create holds the energy of everything that was involved in its creation - where and how the ingredients were grown, transported and how it was prepared by us. Yes, our customers might want good food at good prices, but they’re also going to pay attention to this: what really goes into the plates that they consume?

I will finish by naming what all of us feel to some extent - that that this is a turning point for our industry. We might survive just as we are, but won’t thrive unless we reform.

Find the Centre of London study here: www.centreforlondon.org/publication/kitchen-talent/

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