Chefs help society in so many ways which can be overlooked, both by the wider public, and by the chefs themselves. There is a stereotypical image of an angry shouting chef who is only obsessed with the food that’s leaving their kitchen.
In my experience this is rarely a true representation. Sure I have come across chefs who are a little more ‘focused’ than others, but these are the exception not the rule.
The majority of chef’s care about the wider societal impact they are having. They want to be sure the job they are doing contributes in a meaningful way and is helping others.
Chefs help society in many ways, such as teaching young and often disadvantaged people a career skill for life, and by providing a vital link between food producing areas of society and their urban counterparts.
This article will show the various ways which chefs help other people so we can all hold our heads up high knowing we are offering value to others!
Those chefs who would like to do more to help others, will find some easy to implement strategies they can adopt into their daily routine.
Provide a Link between Rural and Urban Areas
Perhaps the most important role chefs play in helping others is that they establish a link between the food producers and the end consumer.
This is an area close to my heart as I come from a farming family but I moved to a city to follow my career. There can be disconnect between the food being produced and the neatly wrapped packages that end up on the supermarket shelves.
Rural communities can feel like they are forever having to supply produce at a faster rate, and the care for quality by the consumer is reducing in an effort to save costs.
This is where chefs come in to help. A great chef will take great local produce and enhance it by their cooking skills. By demonstrating the importance of sourcing high quality ingredients, this helps everyone in the supply chain.
Customers that come to the restaurant will have an appreciation for the fine quality of food that has been served.
As an example, perhaps a wonderful lamb rump. The customers, then in turn, are more likely to hunt out some good quality lamb from their local butcher to recreate the experience at home.
This link demonstrates that food quality and source is important. When the public choose to shop locally, and ask for good quality local produce, everyone benefits in a circle that produces a wonderful community feel.
Teach People How to Cook
When chefs teach others how to cook they are helping them to learn a vital life skill. This will benefit them both health-wise, and financially, throughout their entire lives.
The budget on education always results in Head Teachers having to make difficult decisions regarding where funding is spent. We are seeing that teaching children life skills such as cooking are being prioritised less and less in schools.
A future society where the majority of people can not cook, and are forced to rely on ready meals and takeaways, will be damaging, not only to our physical health but also on our mental well being.
This is where chefs come in. By teaching others how to cook, be it through our own kitchens, through YouTube courses, blogs etc. we are filling in where the standard education system is falling short.
An ability to produce great food at home connects people with their loved ones in a unique way and ensures that we can make much healthier choices regarding our diets.
Famous chefs, such as Jamie Oliver, of course do a great job of this. With a reach of millions their impact on society is huge. However, that doesn’t mean that ordinary chefs can’t do their bit to help others.
Simple ideas such as posting on social media our latest creation, with some simple advice on how to recreate it, is a great way to inspire others to learn to cook in a fun and engaging way.
Teaching Young People Values
Chefs all vividly remember their first year in a kitchen as a whirlwind of learning, not only how to cook but values such as respect, discipline and confidence.
A kitchen environment is very unique in society in that we often take young people and mould them to be more ‘chef like’.
What I mean by this, is we can literally see the transformation in front of our eyes. Over time an unconfident young person gains skills and experience, so that they start believing in themselves more. They walk a little taller, and talk a little louder; the zest for life starts to pour out of them.
It works the other way as well. A newcomer may be lacking in the discipline and respect required to make it as a chef. Perhaps they come from a less fortunate background and have had a tough time in their past.
The kitchen environment moulds these people into respectful and well-disciplined workers by providing structure and showing the benefits of having passion for a career.
This respect and discipline does not end when they leave the kitchen at the end of the day. It has far reaching consequences which benefit all of society.
Kitchens really are a great place for taking young people that have the potential to go down a rocky path and turning it around so they believe in themselves and go on to do great things.
Cook and Contribute to Good Causes
Chefs often help others by cooking for good causes such as homeless shelters or benefit functions. Any left-over food will be donated to a local group, benefiting those in society who have fallen on hard times.
Whilst going about our normal day jobs, chefs will often find themselves cooking for a charity event or benefit function. There’s always an extra sense of pride in the kitchen when preparing for these functions.
The T.V show the Great British Menu is a great at showing how everyone really ups their game when they know they are cooking for a worthy cause.
These type of functions play an important role in society.
Some may view attending benefit functions as the preserve of the wealthy or fortunate. Whilst this may be true in some instances, there is no denying they raise vast sums of money which goes on to contribute to the wider society.
Chefs can always feel proud of the huge part they play. After all, if everyone at the event has a bad meal do we think they will be as keen to donate large sums of money to the cause?
As well as functions throughout a normal working day there are also the additional causes that chefs attach themselves to.
A restaurant will often partner with a local charity so that any food waste can be donated to them. This is often extremely high quality, particularly in places (such as large hotels) which change their menus on a daily basis.
Chefs are playing a large role in helping others when the 4 or 5 star cuisine they have cooked is picked up the following morning to be dished out for free to those who are struggling.
It can feel like a fair balance in many cases. Those who can afford to pay for their dinner are, and those who have fallen on hard times are getting it the next day for little cost. What could be a more balanced view of society than that right before our eyes?
Food Shines A Spotlight On The Whole World
This video of one of Jamie Oliver’s trip to Italy highlights how cooking is so specific to each region.
When chefs cook food based on other cuisines from around the world they are highlighting that place to their customers, which has a huge benefit on society.
Food is often the gateway into another culture and a great way of bringing people together. Britain is a great example of a huge multicultural population which is glued together in large part by the sharing of cuisine.
Choosing to go out for a meal such as Thai or Indian, we are not just eating that food, we are having our eyes opened to a whole culture.
I have a fascination with Japan and that all started because I enjoy that type of cuisine. When we experience something we enjoy we want to learn more about it.
As we go down the rabbit hole of learning about food we are naturally drawn towards other areas of the culture such as how they respect food, or how their cuisine originated.
For example, we can realise from Asian cuisine that meat free meals do not have to be bland and boring. The range of cooking techniques, ingredients and care that is put into vegetable based dishes is something which resonates and we can use in our own cooking back at home.
When chefs contribute to an open society in this way, it is a great benefit to others. When we are aware of each-others cultures we show more respect to one another, contributing to a better world for everyone.
We can take small steps like putting dishes on our menu that are specific to certain events. For example, add Haggis to our menu on Burns Night.
A conversation will inevitably follow about the meaning of Burns Night and flow into a greater understanding and appreciation of other countries heritage.
Cooking Just makes People Happy
The final way in which chefs help others, is the fact that eating great food just makes people happy.
Chefs are in a unique position in that we get to change customer’s mental state on a daily basis. The fastest way to cheer someone up who’s having a tough day is to cook them a great meal!
We also get to be a part of people’s special occasions and events in their lives.
Perhaps a table is booked to celebrate a customer’s birthday. We cook the dishes that ultimately enhance the experience for that entire table of people. In the conversations and thoughts which follow the meal, the subject of specific dishes they were served will certainly come up.
This can continue for many years, “Do you remember that amazing fish we had at……”
Great food helps to build great memories. In this way, although it can seem simple, chefs are helping others in a very meaningful way.
To Sum Up
Every day, chefs get to help others and have a huge impact on society as a whole. We should ensure we do not lose sight of the great work we are doing, in what can feel like a very challenging job at time.
Like all areas of life we have a choice. We can choose to embrace helping others, and by doing so, we often find that it comes back to us many times over.
A restaurant where the chefs actively contribute to society and help others will be a place that is welcomed by the locals and will ultimately thrive.