Kitchen Camaraderie

by Mark Broadbent

Mark Broadbent has enjoyed a food-obsessed career spanning three decades. He’s cooked in Five star Hotels, Two star Michelin restaurants, Gastro Pubs and Member’s Clubs, delivering unforgettable cuisine or acting as a consultant. London’s Bluebird was just one of his success stories. Under his creative direction, the restaurant achieved huge critical acclaim and was especially loved by AA Gill.

Much relief in the kitchen yesterday after one of the team discovered a nifty online tool for checking the chances of your job being replaced by a robot. Apparently, us chefs rank number 213 in the chart of roles most likely to become automated. Reassuringly in the “not very likely” zone.

The research in the news recently from Oxford University (warning that over a third of UK jobs could become computerised in the next 20 years) really got me thinking.

On the face of it, it’s easy to see why it would be difficult to replace chefs with artificial intelligence (at least I like to think it is). The creativity, the artistry, the finesse, the ability to combine flavours, textures and tastes – how could this possibly become automated?

But there’s more to it than that. And it’s something so human and so intrinsic to working in a kitchen that it could never be successfully replicated by a robot: teamwork.

Working in close harmony becomes second nature to anyone worth their salt in the kitchen. Everyone plays their part – from the dishwasher all the way up to the head chef – the whole team needs to learn to instinctively understand the common goal for a kitchen team to be a success.

In a large kitchen such as ours, you’ll have multiple chefs as well as a team of assistants. Then there’s the front of house staff. Trust is essential – as the head chef, I need to have utter confidence that everyone is working on their part.

Kitchens are high-pressure and fast-paced environments. There’s tense moments, and there’s not always time for niceties. A good team can communicate effectively, and be professional enough to keep the focus on what needs doing.

But that doesn’t mean a kitchen should be a hostile environment. Any team works best when it is well-bonded, where people can share a laugh and take collective pride in a job well done.

A good kitchen team stands and falls together. You can have the best chef in the world at the helm, but if the team isn’t putting in 100%, it doesn’t mean a thing.

I’m hugely grateful for the hardworking staff we have here at Bread & Honey. Every day they blow me away with their enthusiasm, talent and sheer pride in their work.

And if you ask me what the secret to our success is, I’d say it in one word: teamwork. And that’s something no computer can replicate.

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