A movement aimed at creating ‘FairKitchens’ by driving change in the restaurant industry has been launched by Unilever Food Solutions. Through partnering with chefs across the industry such as Michael Gulotta and Kat Kinsman, founder of the Chefs with Issues forum, the ‘FairKitchens’ movement seeks to stamp out the abusive and destructive culture of the past through solutions created by chefs, for chefs.
Recent research conducted by Unilever Food Solutions reveals an abusive kitchen culture caused by the increasingly ‘acceptable’ face of kitchen life where a set of daily deprivations - sleep, health, abuse, lack of control – is having a serious impact on chef well-being. This in turn means that the industry is losing talent.
Globally, one in four chefs have been victims of abuse in the kitchen and 50 percent have come close to quitting because of the intensity of their jobs. With 74 percent of chefs suffering sleep deprivation to the point of exhaustion, the research highlights the industry is not only bleeding talent, but in a dire state across the world.
Led by Chef Einav Gefen, Executive Chef at Unilever Food Solutions, the movement seeks to build a brighter future for the industry. By creating solutions to address the issues facing the industry ‘FairKitchens’ can transform chef’s lives. These are human-centric, positive and structured workplaces that are financially stable businesses with high staff retention and diner loyalty. These kitchens will follow a code of conduct, with clearly outlined behaviors and five core values designed to change the industry for the better.
Building a movement takes more than a few chefs and restaurants, so the ‘FairKitchens’ movement is calling upon the entire industry to inspire change to build a better kitchen culture. Through partnering with influential players and chefs in the industry such as Michael Gulotta, Kat Kinsman, and the Unilever Food Solutions network of over 300 chefs globally, the ambition is a world where 17 million restaurants are running ‘FairKitchens.’
Chef Einav Gefen says “Chefs love what they do, but too often, pursuing their passion for cooking comes at a cost to their well-being. At times it often feels as though the consumer, cares more about the welfare of the chicken on our plate than the chef who has cooked it – this needs to change. We need to unite the industry by providing tangible solutions that will lead to a change for good. We want to create a ‘FairKitchens’ movement that supports head chefs to create a new kitchen culture, championing chef well-being.”
To make ‘FairKitchens’ a reality, the movement will be underpinned by a resource hub (https://www.fairkitchens.com/)dedicated to providing much needed training and support to chefs, including tools such as a customizable code of conduct and practical videos to help drive a blueprint for a better, healthier kitchen environment.
Kat Kinsman, founder of the Chefs with Issues forum and Food & Wine writer says; “The restaurant industry has long been in crisis and chefs are suffering. The workforce is hungry for solutions and it’s time for industry partners and chefs to join forces and make a change. We are moving into the next phase of restaurant culture, where sustainable working conditions are finally acknowledged to be as important as sustainable ingredients – we need more ‘FairKitchens’.”
As part of the ‘FairKitchens’ movement, on the 15th of May, chefs from around the country gathered at HEARD! – a series of face-to-face meetings hosted by Chef Einav Gefen in partnership with Kat Kinsman. The aim of HEARD! is to provide a face-to-face outlet for chefs to openly discuss issues in their kitchens and get advice on solutions from an expert panel on the day. The first event kicked off at Bâtard in New York City on the 15th of May with Executive Chef, Michael Anthony, of Gramercy Tavern, Alexander Hardy from gogetsomejoy.com and Errol Rodriguez Ph.D, with subsequent event planned for July 24th in New Orleans at Michael Gulotta’s restaurant MayPop.
The movement will be further supported by ‘An Hour for Us’ on the 29th of May, where kitchens around the country will raise awareness of ‘FairKitchens’ and the need for change in the industry. They’ll close their doors, stop service, and instead define what a ‘FairKitchen’ means to them and the steps they need to get there.