Gareth Ward who runs the Michelin starred Ynyshir restaurant in Wales opened up to his local newspaper recently, The Daily Post, about how his aggressive behaviour towards staff in the kitchen led to an environment where they refused to work with him.
In a honest and open dialogue, Ward echoes the sentiment being expressed across the industry right now about how high-stress, long-hour, intensely-pressured, old-school military style ranking kitchens need to change.
“I had been schooled in kitchens where shouting and swearing was the normal way of working,” he said, explaining how this background coupled with a tough time in his personal life affected his behavior in the kitchen. “It is not an excuse for how I behaved though,” he added.
"It reached a point that I was in the kitchen with no staff, a list of jobs to do and food to get out and no one to help me. At the end of the service I looked in the mirror and knew it was because of me, because of the way I was.” It’s a brave move to be so open, but Ward vowed to change after his night of juggling an entire kitchen solo. He said he broke down and cried, openly assessed his approach and now has a waiting list for staff who appreciated the new “big family” approach.
He also wants his mistake to serve as a word of warning that helps push the kitchens towards better working styles. “I think we need to change the industry. Every kitchen I had worked in was full of shouting and swearing at staff. I think this has to change.” This was also highlighted at the end of 2017 when the workers union, Unite, conducted a chef survey in which they found many of London's chefs were working long hours, often tired, at the risk of injuring themselves.