Cool as a cucumber

There are some hidden gems in our industry really worth sharing and here is one of them for anyone with a love for hospitality. 

The indefatigable Roy Ackerman hosts his own Digital TV channel called Cool Cucumber TV

Click here for a small taster of Cool Cucumber...

The interface is not the prettiest and there are no 'share' buttons, but boy does Roy make up for it in content with celeb chef interviews, restaurant profiles, wines, ingredients and recipes. Check it out now - it's fantastic.

Sport Relief vs Tax Relief

It struck me that the Chancellor - every chancellor, I guess - must be pretty heartless when it comes to announcing a budget. No matter who he tries to please, there are always people on the other side of the fence who feel they got a raw deal. 
And so it was with the so-called ‘granny tax’, which wasn’t really a tax at all but the Red Tops didn’t focus too much on such details. What mattered to them was that ‘’little old ladies” were being screwed out of their hard earned cash while the fat cats in Downing Street retired to their subsidised bar for a snifter. And that sells papers.
Talking of bars, the licensed trade were incandescent with rage that Duty was sneaked in under the rather misleading statement of ‘no changes to duty rates’ when in fact it meant the 2%-above-inflation calculator would still apply from previous years. In real terms that means an additional 9p on the pint while the punter paying for it thinks there was no increase at all.
The problem with all this wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth at such injustice is that we can’t make a difference. Yes we can vote in a new government, who will happily provide more of the same. Or perhaps we can lobby for some changes, but this only moves the burden elsewhere. Perhaps we can start a movement...
But wait. Before the Chancellor can even begin to worry about such a backlash, he is given a massive get-out-of-jail-free card from the general public as a result of one frenzied night of overwhelming generosity. I am of course talking about Sport Relief and the amazing achievement of raising £50M during a frantic night of charity broadcasting. 
The worst thing that could have happened from Mr. Osborne’s perspective, would have been if Sport Relief had had a dismal disaster with worse-than-ever results to report on the night. Mr. Osborne would have woken up to headlines screaming their vindication that the economy was not working and that heads should roll. 

Alas that didn’t happen. In typical British form, we accept our lot, count our blessings by giving a little to charity and begrudgingly pay that little extra for our hard-earned pint down the pub.
Who can blame the Chancellor’s heartlessness, when the great British public has more than enough heart to go around?

Pseudo-Chef: Comedy of Errors

This is one of the funniest videos I've seen in a long time. Watch it a couple of times and enjoy it.

After reflecting on it for a while, I think there is a large pinch of truth to be found in there somewhere. Over the years I have met, worked with and sadly, employed a number of chefs who really believe the dishes they cook are worthy of a Masterchef finale, when in truth they would be laughed out of a transport caff.

I am talking about chefs that produce the most bland or insipid sauces and purees safe in the knowledge that a trendy 'swipe' or 'smear' presentation will lift it to greatness. Or calling a dish locally-sourced because "the label on the box in the freezer said 'Made In England'" (the actual words of a waitress describing a burger's provenance to a friend of mine in a pub recently).

Or the kind of chefs who consider ketchup to be a great substitute for tomato puree and a tin-opener essential to their knife kit. Or who perhaps look at you blankly when you ask "Is this dish actually finished?' or "Have you added any seasoning?" where the final stage of 'pass and correct' - meaning to sieve the sauce or soup and adjust the seasoning - is all too often omitted out of laziness. 

Or who get defensive when you ask if we can do something other than spaghetti bolognese for the special. (And by the way, serving the ragu on the side does not render it 'de-constructed'.)

And why has this culture been allowed to develop? Because it is now the norm for this bland mix-and-match pseudo-cooking to be praised at every turn for it's so-called uniqueness and creativity. Eric Morecambe's piano tinkling with Andre Previn wasn't a masterclass in music, it was a masterclass in comedy. In the same vain there are thousands of so-called chefs - in small local pubs, big chain mega-brands, neighbourhood eateries and tired institutions - earning a decent salary, not for the Masterclass in cookery they think they are delivering but for the comedy of errors their customers have to put up with.