If I had a penny for every chef that told me that they were targeting food awards (AA Rosettes or Michelin Stars), it’s likely that I wouldn’t be writing this blog!
The fact of the matter is that chefs more than most enjoy targets, achievement, recognition, advancement and career growth in terms of stature and salary. However, how you decide to pursue food awards is really important. There’s the positive approach and the destructive approach.
Having sat in front of thousands of chefs discussing whether or not they’ve achieved their goals or not, there is definitely a dark side to the obsession with awards and this can be generally led by the personality of the chef. Time and time again I’ve sat with chefs and the F&B team as the target of food awards is set out both in terms of food quality and service requirements. This approach can set the whole process on a pedestal and instantly you can feel the pressure rising. When this happens the frustration around mistakes can take a sinister approach, a sense of failure is achieved so much faster, and the mood throughout F&B can get decidedly gloomy. If and when the inspector comes and goes and food awards aren’t achieved then it’s likely that fireworks may go off and people begin to leave the business. I’ve seen this so often. Pride always comes before a fall.
The converse approach is for F&B (including the chef) take the more relaxed view in that if everyone is just themselves and there is a gentle collective push then it’s more likely that awards will come, and if they don’t, so what. With the team simply being themselves and enjoying their work the connection with the guest becomes increasingly congenial and you actually end up with a lot of happy customers, which ultimately is what you’re looking for.
Most guests aren’t bothered about food awards with Rosettes often associated more with the chefs CV and a benchmark for recruitment. As for Michelin-stars, the one thing that the public remember more than they day you achieve or retain one is the day you lose it. Getting onto the awards merrygoround comes with its own dynamic pressures and you need t have a rock solid culture to stay on.
There is an absolute commercial benefit to cooking to an award standard even if you’re never visited by an inspector. The better your food becomes the better your reputation becomes and the more you can charge when delivering a value for money proposition. Assuming 2 Rosette cooking is a step up in sophistication over say 1 Rosette or no Rosettes, and assuming you’re charging 20% more as a result, then the commercial kick back is more than worth the effort and goes a long way in paying for the skills base that maintains the standard and revenue.