Well, well, well.. Really? The hospitality industry over working and underpaying on an enormous, almost complete scale. Well I'll be.
Where to begin.
Forever now top restaurants have required an unbelievable amount of commitment, tireless work and a natural God-given passion that most simply aren't built with. You can hack it, or you can't. You do not complain. My nearest and dearest will never be capable of understanding the requirements of being a top chef. We found a pattern, we found it quickly- You do your learning in your own time or you fall behind. The romantic notion that a head chef will take you under their wing and share all their life long secrets with you is quickly beat out of you (metaphorically of course..). Respect in the kitchen is earned and that's a near impossible task.
Jogging to the kitchen at Aria Sydney my first shift I was really pleased with myself arriving, being dressed, ready to work and with my own tools in hand by 8am - a full hour before my rostered shift begun only to be told I was "late". I was quick to inform the commis chef Richie that he was wrong, pointing to the roster that was plastered to the wall. Silly me, so silly. "Supplies arrive at 7am, you'll need to be here before then to pack them away or you're letting the team down". Letting the team down - I heard that quite a lot the next few months. Another apprentice there had no choice but to sleep on the restaurant floor multiple times as there were literally not enough hours or minutes to get home and back before the next shift, let alone any down time. I made do with around 3.5 hours of sleep during my work week with just enough time to walk home, shower and pass out- lucky me! But apparently working from 6.30am until around midnight isn't good enough, you also needed to do it for free!! My time sheets were modified for me if I did not conform and I was paid only for the time the roster stated, Monday to Frida, 9am - 5pm, no penalties..
Tonights top news story- George Colambaris has conceded defeat. While it is admirable, even from where I sit, that he has 'come forward' to back pay his staff there is a much greater story here. For years I've genuinely believed (and even more so now as a Head Chef Restauranteur) that people just don't want to pay the price it takes to put a dish on a plate. I still believe this and the Australian people have a great deal of responsibility here, however, I really have a problem with the likes of Colambaris and every other multi - million dollar, celebrity chef that chooses to run modern day, first world sweat shops, holding apprentice education at ransom in kitchens of restaurants that certainly can afford the wages instead taking the loot, and the praise for themselves.
Once again, Congratulations to you George, even if you only back-paid your staff because you're reputation is at stake, you have indeed made good (and avoided being sued), Kudos to you. Cue other celebrity chefs and high earning restaurants to follow suit. Some of us have given all we have for you.
PLEASE READ THE ARTICLE HERE IF YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.. OR EVEN IF YOU DO
More to come.........