Cheers to the Chef is an initiative of Gault&Millau. It is very simple. As a recognition of the work the thousands of chefs in Australia do, we want everyone to raise a glass to the chef on Saturday 20 October – International Chefs Day. Simply show your appreciation for the “back of house” – it won’t cost you anything except your praise and thanks – and a glass of something chilled.
So on Saturday 20 October, please raise a glass to the chef who cooked your meal and send them your greetings. If we can get everyone, in every restaurant, toasting our chefs they will feel the appreciation – and make all that hard work worthwhile.
Gault&Millau will offer six prizes of cookbooks, each valued at $300 – one in each State of Victoria, NSW (including ACT) Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia – to the guests who best toast their Chef. See T&Cs.
Why should we cheers to the chef?
The Celebrity Chef is a relatively
recent phenomenon. Less than 100 years ago chef’s were hidden away in kitchens
that were hot, smelly and full of poisonous fumes, often in the bowels of the
building or in a separate outhouse. Only the very top chefs such as Careme and
Escoffier managed to escape into more normal surroundings.
Today, Food is fashionable and visual, a natural product for the insatiable appetite of the multimedia programmes of the late twentieth century. The celebrity status of chefs, throughout the world, has lifted the overall status of the profession. Kitchens are no longer hidden away but have become “restaurant theatre”. Many chefs have gained almost cult status and food has become sensual, passionate and vital. Indeed some celebrity chefs such as Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver have been accused of “gastro-pornography”.
However, setting up and running a restaurant is not as easy it looks and being a celebrity chef does not guarantee success. Cooking food on television is easy! You can redo it if the soufflé fails and you can edit out the mistakes. You can spend a whole day making just three dishes. Your ingredients are always at hand and a group of food stylists behind the scenes can ensure the final product looks great.
In a busy restaurant you do not have the luxury of being able to do it again or to take lots of time. Your guests expect good food to be served perfectly the first time, every time. The restaurant is a live stage and every night is different. Every chef is today a celebrity, an actor and a craftsman. It is stressful. Running a restaurant is the only industry in which you are criticised, compared, scored and scruitinised – every day. A restaurant owner has to be a cook, an accountant, a human resources expert, a purchasing manager, a cleaner, a food safety expert, a marketer – a jack of all trades. The hours are long and the profits small! Whilst today's chef enjoys much greater status, and more varied and enjoyable work conditions than his or her counterpart in the past, they are still largely unsung heroes.