The professional kitchen can be a stressful and chaotic place at the best of times, just ask any chef. However – and you may be disappointed here – as far as I’m concerned there is no need to add to the stress by cursing and throwing pans.
I know it makes for good television but don’t be fooled into thinking that all professional chefs (particularly British ones like myself) are hot headed and curse at their staff.
At The Ternary, my kitchen is all about respect – earning and giving it – as opposed to working in an episode of Kitchen Nightmares. Through creating an environment built on respect, communication and collaboration, not only do I have a team who enjoy coming to work to plate up top notch food, but also care where that food comes from and want to help me shape the menu and dishes our patrons enjoy.
Lucky for me I have a team that is culturally diverse, bringing with them such a wealth of interesting knowledge, tastes and ideas that I’d be crazy not to capitalise on and ask for their creative input, as well as hard graft in the kitchen. That’s why I encourage my team to share their ideas with me, suggest when they think a recipe could be tweaked, or if there is something new that could be added to the menu. I know that we can learn from each other and, as a result, create dishes that taste better.
For example, the lamb kofta kebabs with herb salad, mint and pomegranate yoghurt on The Ternary’s menu are a family recipe from one of my sous-chefs. I was trying to come up with the perfect koftas when he stepped in and offered to cook his mum’s secret recipe for me – to show me how it should really be done. Hands down, his mum had it right – they are the best koftas I’ve ever tasted, using a complex yet subtle combination of spices and seasoning I never would have thought of. After much wrangling and swearing under oath, he agreed to share the recipe with me, but just me. So as long as those koftas stay on the menu you won’t ever find the two of us taking a holiday at the same time.
Of course if all of the above – having staff that enjoy coming to work, producing delicious food and sharing their secret recipes with me – wasn’t enough of a reason to create a collaborative and creative place to work, there’s also the fact that at The Ternary we work in open kitchens. Seating surrounding the kitchens means our diners can enjoy the sights, sounds, aromas and drama of their food being prepared in front of them up close – and whilst we know that they enjoy the drama of this, no one wants a side of bad language with their betel leafs of smoked flaked salmon with salmon pearls and fried shallots, do they now?