#FairKitchens chefs reflect and share their hopes for 2022

Over the past two years our industry has been tested in ways no one could have imagined. All around the #FairKitchens community we have seen teams rising to the challenge, finding new reserves of resilience and connection. We asked four chefs to reflect on what they have learnt during this time and their hopes for the future of hospitality.

Audrey Crone
Executive Chef Ireland, Unilever Food Solutions

Audrey has had an exciting and varied career gaining experience in hotels, restaurant, pubs and as Executive Development Chef for a contract caterer. She went on to lead the Irish National Culinary team to three Silver and a Bronze medal in the Culinary Olympics. In her current role as a development Chef she combines a passion for food and sustainability inspiring chefs on creative ways to achieve the best results from their produce and is still involved in competitions as a World Chefs judge.

What did you learn in 2021?
“No matter how strong you think you are, we are all vulnerable at different stages in life. For a time I felt things were out of my control. Feeling ‘weak’ mentally or physically is not something I’m used to, but I have discovered a resilience that I hadn’t recognised in myself before. As chefs we deal with change daily, reinvent and push on.”

What changes do you hope to see in hospitality in 2022?
“It’s been so difficult for hospitality. I really hope 2022 sees us learning to live with Covid. I’d like business owners and chefs alike to take the opportunity to identify how they can help build a better future for our people. This is partly about leaders outlining the vision for their kitchen, encouraging creativity and inspiring others. Coaching and listening are fundamental.”

Meeran Manzoor
Executive Head Chef, Rare

Beginning his training in his home city of Chennai, Meeran went on to work at London’s Dorchester where he nurtured his passion for quality produce. In 2021 he launched Rare, a fine dining experience in Kinsale, Ireland.

What did you learn in 2021?
“The main thing has been how to react to consumer behaviour changes post lockdown. Things which might not have been an issue at all before have become a sensitive point at present. I also learned how to gain more patience, focus on the little things.”

What changes do you hope to see in hospitality in 2022?
“Hospitality is an industry which gets affected by everything, it can be very fragile and I would like to see it become stronger, with proper support. “I want to see leaders showing respect to their teams, creating a fair environment for everyone and communicating effectively.”

Sean Noonan
Premier Sous Chef, The Mere Resort

After training at Wirral Met, Sean won the Teflon Diamond Standard National Young Chef of the Year 2013. In addition to his work in a double rosette awarded restaurant, Sean brought chefs and producers together for the Northern Food and Drink Virtual Festival at the height of lockdown.

What did you learn in 2021?
"I've learned the importance of work-life balance as well as staff wellness and wellbeing after going through a few issues with employers and my kitchen staff.”

What changes do you hope to see in hospitality in 2022?
“One big change I hope to see is people coming into our great industry, but at the same time actually being nurtured and treated right.”

“I think the days of the shouting and screaming chefs fuelled on alcohol and drugs are gone. And it’s now time for the industry to become a place people enjoy being in - a happy and safe environment. We need to see leaders training and guiding their staff - treating people in the right way.” 

James Birch
Development Chef, Unilever Food Solutions UK

James has over 20 years of hands-on chef experience across a range of sectors. He began his career in fine dining and hotels, before moving on to contract catering for large B&I and University contracts. He’s worked in Development at Unilever for the past few years, where a crucial part of his role is mentoring and supporting brigades of ambitious chefs.

What did you learn in 2021?
“2021 has been a real challenge for our industry in particular. We have had to be resilient, adaptive and innovative. Attracting and retaining talent for our kitchen teams has been paramount, alongside making sure we have the supplies to enable customers to deliver the best tasting menus.”

What changes do you hope to see in hospitality in 2022?
“I hope we see this as an opportunity for everyone to review how we value hospitality and what it brings. Whilst still giving our industry the platform to adapt and innovate, carrying on the momentum of positive culture change so we can attract and nurture talent in our teams.”

At #FairKitchens, we believe there can be a brighter future for hospitality. Our community brings people together to connect and learn from each other, sharing inspiration and advice from those who are leading the way. Let’s make positive change, together - in 2022 and beyond. 

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