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Chef Paul Sorgule, who we feature regularly on the site, is an experienced cook. He’s seen and weathered many different kitchen environments and characters in his years at the stove and in a recent blog post he discusses how the “rough and tumble vision of the cook and chef ... the carefree, in your face demeanour” has gradually evaporated over the last half century or so, to be replaced by a more conscientious, philosophical kitchen attitude.
These then are the 12 kitchen philosophies the modern cook should and increasingly does live and work by according to Sorgule.
1. Fight for food integrity
Cooks and chefs have been on the front lines for change in food standards and what information is provided so that consumers can make intelligent buying decisions.
2. Fresh is always better
In the ‘60s it was difficult to find a fresh vegetable in a restaurant kitchen, or if it was fresh, then we cooked it to “death by steamtable.” Today – fresh is an expectation.
3. Great cooking is a business of relationships
Chefs led the charge towards making connections with the source, learning how their ingredients were raised or grown, and giving credit where credit is due – the farmer, more than anyone else, determines the quality of the restaurant meal.
4. Professionalism = Respect
We no longer need to hang our heads when we say: “I am a cook.” In fact, we can hold our heads high because people are learning to respect the cook for his or her skill and the creative spirit that exists in kitchens.
5. Diversity and inclusion always wins
Kitchens are no longer camps for white Anglo Saxon males. Kitchens have grown to become the most diverse work environments around.
6. Nutrition is important
Over the past few decades we have become not just aware of how important it is to prepare items in a manner to protect their nutritional value, but have gone a step further as we have become ambassadors for this process.
7. Food safety is a moral obligation
Sure, there is a legal obligation, but more and more we find cooks who take their responsibility for food safety very seriously.
8. Chefs needs to be leaders and not dictators
The environment of the screaming chef dictator who believes that he is the only source of wisdom in the kitchen is fading rapidly. Chefs know that if they are to be successful it is imperative that they build, develop, and retain an effective, cohesive team. This takes leadership.
9. Now we understand flavour
We have accepted the science behind cooking and in the process have learned the how and why that makes all of us better at our craft.
10. Real cooks share and teach
It was very common just a few decades ago, for cooks and chefs to protect their methods and recipes from others. Today, we know that an important part of our job is to develop others, to share what we know, and to take on the role of teacher.
11. Food is an intellectual profession, as well as a tactile one
Suddenly, people are graduating from college with a degree in culinary arts, food chemistry, food history and gastronomy, and nutrition. Academics are learning to accept what we do as a scholarly discipline, as well as a trade.
12. Food can and should be an experience
In the ‘60s food was still viewed more as sustenance. The restaurant experience was far from exceptional (aside from a handful of exclusive operations). We have come a long way – today the restaurant experience involves a connection with all of the human senses.