Kitchen dispatches with love

How often do we have the highest of high expectations of a particular eating place, only to have them deflated when the actual experience fails to live up to all the hype?

Sound familiar?

We all have good reason not to recommend restaurants to friends anymore because they, like their food, have a limited shelf life. Why is this? Well one of the possible reasons, in my opinion, is that the food 'industry' seems to have caught a virus from the fashion industry, which manifests itself as constant re-invention and the elevation of ephemera.

Change happens for change’s sake, and while those at the 'cutting edge' of food are seeking yet more outrageous ways to prevent our tastebuds from Nodding-Off . . . for example bacon and egg flavoured ice-cream – yes really! – we, the consumers, are seemingly egging them on!

Those restaurants that fail to 'keep up' with the trends, become labelled as old-fashioned and out of touch, and the customers vote with their feet. Sooner or later, the talented staff are lured away and, before you can say plat du jour, your favourite eaterie has gone off the boil.

Like fashion, food has its buzzwords and phrases. 'Fresh ingredients' is a phrase used so often these days, as essential to a perfect culinary experience, that one wonders what was being used before!

Not that long ago we, the eating public, were subjected to an audacious confidence trick in the shape of 'Nouvelle Cuisine'. Quite simply, as less and less food actually appeared on the plate, so the price that we paid would rise commensurately. We seemed to swallow this for a while, at least until a chorus of grumbling empty stomachs (and empty wallets) demanded a meal on the plate that actually resembled a meal, and not a Japanese minimalist painting.

At this point, the casual reader will have begun to notice a couple of French words creeping in and so I shall have to explain that the vocabulary of cooking consists, by and large, of French words, some of which have become anglicised.

The word Restaurant comes from the French verb, Se Restaurer, which means to eat or literally to restore oneself.

The Brigade de cuisine, or Kitchen brigade, describes the hierarchy found in restaurants and hotels, and is commonly referred to as 'Kitchen staff' . . . where the list goes on and on rather like the credits at the end of a film! The trouble is the subtext of this multitude of worthy contributors is a gathering impression of pompousness and self-importance.

Up at the sharp end, the British food establishment in hotels and restaurants is still run with a hierarchical structure that is based upon the French model, with its Brigade de cuisine. This rather military sounding company of cooks occupies a limited space of heat and steam, where unsurprisingly, soup isn't the only thing likely to boil-over, and storm clouds can gather in spite of the most efficient of extractor fans.

TV producers have not been slow to spot the dramatic potential of the kitchen space, where events can often seem to be as unpredictable as a tropical weather system ... and just as damaging.

The Chef de cuisine is the General at the head of reconciling those seemingly irreconcilable qualities of creativity and artistry on the one hand, with organisational and leadership ability on the other. Small wonder that those storm clouds can turn dark blue when the General finds himself between a rock-cake and a hard place, and unleashes language that would make a costermonger blush!

It is ironic that all this trouble and strife is aimed at producing a confection designed to give sublime pleasure to its recipients, when one considers the all-pervasive negative energy that is ‘strafing the nursery’ during what should be a labour of love.

That birthing canal, the corridor between kitchen and dining-room, is manned by fleet-footed conveyors, ever-ready to propel the new-born offering to the expectant diners on the other side of that swing-door. Versed in a language of unctuousness and apology, these kitchen angels try to calm our impatience with their unerring cheeriness.

In the teachings of Universal Medicine we understand that “everything is energy and everything is because of energy” (Serge Benhayon). Are we not therefore eating and digesting all that negative energy that has just fermented in the kitchen?

If so, what is it doing to us?

It is widely accepted that 'Fresh ingredients' are essential for the production of a perfect meal, but there is surely another ingredient that is absolutely vital which is the piece de resistance, and that is LOVE!

Without this ingredient, a meal is only half-baked, undercooked, and far less nutritious!

Opera and drama have no place in the kitchen any more than they do in a hospital nursery room, where creations are nurtured with and by LOVE, that most essential of ingredients.

Filed under

Food industryLifestyleWork stress

  • By Jonathan Cooke, Cameraman, Television film editor, Producer, Editor

    I am now retired and living in France near the Swiss border. When not reading or writing, I am taking care of and supporting my surroundings.

  • Photography: Shannon Everest