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Archive for January 29th, 2003

standing the heat

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I’m reading more books than watching TV at the moment, but I am enjoying the documentary series Jamie’s Kitchen. Jamie Oliver is a “celebrity chef” in London, and this series is about his attempt to set up a new restaurant. Getting the physical building set up is bad enough, but he’s also taken 16 unemployed people off the dole and put them through a crash course in professional cooking, calling in a lot of favours. Part of the project was formal training, but there were also field trips to investigate the source of ingredients. If they complete the course, Jamie will employ them in his new restaurant.

I would have jumped at such a chance when I was unemployed, but these people… well, a couple of them have genuine problems at home, true, but it’s not acceptable to show up hours late, or not at all, without letting people know. Flying into arguments with the boss, poor hygiene, inability to organize anything, inability to handle tools and equipment such as knives and ovens, etc. Then there are the attitudes… oh yes.

I’ve met such people, and did not get on with them. A few can’t grasp the concept that their work genuinely needs to be done, and artful dodges and trying mind games on the the boss will not change that – all they’re doing is dumping work on their colleagues. You don’t have to like your colleagues, but at least respect them and imagine yourself in their shoes. You don’t need to kiss the boss’ backsides – I’ve never even tried that – but if they are any good, you can learn something from them (and sometimes get them to do what you want).

The series tends to focus on the worst students, while the better ones quietly get on with the job. It makes things look worse than they are, but not by much. The students were sent off to restaurants around the country for some on-the-job training, with interesting results, followed by a dress rehearsal at college that leaves some students in tears. Jamie says “when the shit hits the fan, I can’t think of anywhere worse to be (than a kitchen)”. Really? Try computer tech support, pal. The restaurant opened before the documentary series aired: a good thing, otherwise he would have no customers, if this lot are in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, here in Ireland, Shannon Airport is a major stopover for US forces on their way to the Middle East, with much angry debate and accusatory language. The “Green Party” walked out of parliament, accusing the government of having blood on its hands. Today a protester broke into the airport with a hatchet and badly damaged a US Navy passenger plane; her lawyer says her actions were defensible, equivalent to breaking into someone’s house to render assistance to someone else under attack. In other words, she was trying to prevent people getting hurt, by attacking a defenceless Boeing 737. Right…

Written by brian t

January 29, 2003 at 10:01 pm

Posted in food, ireland, television