Reality Check

Earlier this week I had to present to university juniors & seniors. As I started walking into the lecture hall I started to have one of those clichéd “eureka moments.” While looking at the audience I started to realize that the majority of the students in that room were not even born when I started in this industry some 28 years ago.

After boring the class to tears with my presentation (…humor is not a bad thing) I started to contemplate just how much has changed in this business since the 1980’s.

** Back Then – Being a chef was just considered being a tradesman much like an electrician or plumber.
** Today – Being a chef means being a rock star.

** Back Then – The Mother Sauces.
** Today – Gastriques, Aiolis, Nage (don’t call it broth or bouillon) or no sauce at all.

** Back Then – Braise and/or Poach.
** Today – Sous Vide.

** Back Then – Being an Austrian Chef gave you “street cred”.
** Today – Being a chef covered in tattoos gives you “street cred”.

** Back Then – White chef’s coat, checkered pants and a 2 foot tall chef’s hat.
** Today – Where do I start with this one? Some outfits today look like a three year old had a field day with crayons. Maybe sometime soon our industry will do what the professional sports teams do….have throwback uniform days?

** Back Then – Show Plate, Soup Spoon, Appetizer Fork, Salad Spoon, Salad Fork, Appetizer Knife, Entrée Spoon, Entrée Fork, Entrée Knife, Sauce Knife, Steak Knife, Demi Tasse Spoon, Dessert Fork, Dessert Knife……can I keep going?
** Today – A fork and a knife.

** Back Then – You came out of hospitality school slowly working your way to the top.
** Today – “… I am a recent hospitality school graduate. Out of the starting gate I need a good title, to know I’m on the fast track for getting to the top, I only want to work 40 hours (because of that life balance thing) and I want a lot of money for doing it. Oh, by the way, I don’t do weekends…”

** Back Then – Getting into culinary school required having to work a few years in the industry before being accepted.
** Today – Requirements to be accepted into culinary school include a heartbeat and plenty of money.

** Back Then – Food offerings in a hotel almost a necessary evil.
** Today – Hotel restaurants with their own identity that even attract the locals from outside of the property…..and……generate revenue!

** Back Then – I could run an 8 minute mile.
** Today – …….anyway………next subject.

While some of this is done in jest, a number of people that have been in the hospitality business for years can relate. I will agree that there have been some positive changes over the years. For me, it is just the reality check as to how much has changed in the almost 30 years of being in this business. I’m sure those reading this blog could probably have their own “eureka moments.”
Until Next Time….