Tuesday 29 January 2013

It has been awhile...

Not sure why but think it is about time I started to post some new items on my blog... Pappa Cod needs to start fishing for things to say and places to go... so watch this space...

Please let me know if there is a topic you want me to cover and I will try to oblige!

Wednesday 13 January 2010

New Year...more blogging...

Pappa Cod must apologise for his lack of blogging but well the end to 2009 was all a bit fraught and now the start to what is now commonly known as "Twenty Ten" has been challenging for a number of reasons... The UK has certainly not seen snow like we are currently seeing for many a year and with a good coating of the "white stuff" still linger half way through the month it has put paid to a kick start to the year that seemed to be on the cards. We can only hope it begins to thaw and allow life to get back to a semblance of normality.

Some highlights to the end of 2009 for this old fish was a dinner at Le Cafe Anglais...much enjoyed for a starter was a fish quenelle that was a classic - a light earthy flavour and delicate texture had me enraptured.

Then just before Christmas I paid a visit to Zurich in Switzerland that enabled me to visit some old stomping grounds and partake in some Swiss hospitality and efficiency! One place that had me amused was the equivalent of Harrods on the infamous Bahnhofstrasse in central Zurich - Globus... Here they were having a special promotion that was a British Christmas throughout the store... what amused me most was the Cafe menu that is shown above...

You will have to read it carefully but suffice to say the locals were tucking in with relish but at 10:30am in the morning it was not my ideal breakfast!
Someones research had not been totally thorough and correct.
Anyway Pappa Cod will promise to try and blog a shade more frequently and enlighten you more in "twenty ten" honest....

Wednesday 7 October 2009

The Barcode...

Fifty-seven years old today… it has so many uses and formats, In fact it is positively mind-boggling… It is also something of a design statement … Happy Birthday “Barcode” and here’s to the next half century!!

Saturday 26 September 2009

Ageism - a real blight...

A topical subject in light of the directive with the BBC to find a female newsreader that is a touch older!!!

I feel so strongly on this subject I felt it was about time I wrote something on this to highlight some of my own experiences.

I have recruited chefs now for circa twenty years and I know it has been a longstanding issue within the Hospitality industry.

I thought I would recount the following story. A pretty high profile owner operator of an up market business that needs to recruit a new Head Chef recently approached me.

The brief was they needed someone with not only strong culinary skills but, equally strong management skills as since the opening of their business they had struggled to get someone with the good all-round skills required.

In fact they had one - as they put it- disastrous episode with a chef who could cook like a dream but failed to mange their resources or brigade. A tale I often hear…

I duly submitted some candidates one of which was local to this operation and the candidate had an impeccable background… they had worked in high profile establishments for most of their career and had cooked to a high standard… they had not held a Michelin star but they cooked to highly respected standards and more importantly they knew how to make money.

The clients own admission they would love the accolade of a Michelin star but realistically it is purely for vanity and not for business reasons! It is also unlikely the business would ever attain it, as they are not of that ilk or style!

Well they begrudgingly saw my candidate as I persistently felt they should because of this person’s locality to their business. Something I felt was a big plus as in these difficult times – relocation can be a greater challenge!

They then decided a couple of hours before the allotted interview time to see the candidate to leave a junior manager in charge to then interview for them.

They had no CV or been properly briefed so understandably the candidate was quickly on the phone to me bemoaning the fact they had taken the trouble to attend the interview but felt let down the owners did not deem it important enough to be there themselves.

I worked hard to then placate the candidate and the only reason I got from the clients for their decision not to attend was it was the last chance to spend some time with their child before they went back to private school!
A further interview trial day was set up with the candidate keen to meet these owners and tackle what was becoming clearly a prejudice against them based on age!

Well they met and the candidate felt the day had gone well and they had got the message across they were keen and eager to be considered for the role. They also felt there was much they could contribute to this business and could see no obstacles…

The client however was totally non-communicative apart from the quick “one liner email” to say they still had others to see. No feedback or thoughts as to how the day had gone from their perspective.

Eventually some six days later only after yet again my own chasing for feedback I was duly informed they felt my candidate was not suitable as he would not fit into their team…

“he was a bit slow and they would not be able to cope with the pressure”…

The candidate informed me the owner had not even read their CV properly or was fully aware of their background.

My candidate rightly pointed out to me with regards to pressure he had to deal with that every day in his far bigger current role where resources had been cut and demand increased for their very keenly priced product/offer that meant they would be doing three times the volume with a similar brigade size.

They declined to take the application further and I felt these owners had done nothing more than prejudge the individual and demonstrate an incredible arrogance that in light of their profile seemed totally incredulous

In comparison to this I had a new client gladly employ a fifty something old chef in their business – the reason they wanted them was they felt the wealth of experience they could bring was pivotal to their success and needed to fulfil the role effectively.

I live in hope that one day employers will wake up to the fact that past a certain age does not mean the lack of desire or ambition. Harnessed the right way can contribute greatly to their business and ensure a brighter future.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Keith Floyd R.I.P.

It is with sadness to think a legend in terms of TV/Celebrity Chef has passed away.

I had the pleasure of meeting the man a couple of times but I am sure he would not have remembered me.
Once was at a luncheon with my fellow inspectors from Egon Ronay Guides at Marco Pierre Whites restaurant “Harvey’s” on Wandsworth Common. We were all having a pre Christmas lunch and Keith was sat in the corner at another table slowly getting more sozzled.

The next occasion was when working for Egon I was asked to inspect his Pub/Restaurant in Totnes, South Devon in the late 80’s. The Malsters Arms that he then cleverly renamed - "Floyd’s Inn".
I vividly remember having booked a table for lunch in the restaurant arriving to be told sorry but the restaurant was now closed as Mr Floyd was entertaining a personal party therein.

I then had my lunch in the busy bar with Keith popping his head around the room working the tables and lapping up the adulation from the guests, resplendent with red wine glass in hand… my only lasting memory of the lunch was the selection of pates served for my starter were all "bought in" from France – they were good as he had obviously sourced a good supplier but a bit disappointing to think they had not been made in house!

When I then revealed myself on settling my bill I was whisked down stairs to meet the man and was introduced to his then wife Shaunagh and the guests with whom he was lunching – He proudly introduced them as “His Bank Manager”, “His Lawyer”, “His Agent” etc… a bit daunting as no names were given.

He was a gentleman personified and passionate about the food, but as was later revealed not the best at “business” as he ran up huge debts.

His legacy of cookery programmes will have inspired a generation of cooks and chefs and I also remember his talent for spotting a good chef. Although he had departed by the time I inspected the Malsters Arms Jean Christophe Novelli was his chef here when he first arrived here in the UK.

He inspired many of our "celebrity chefs" of today and his penchant for a glass of wine was legendary… I will certainly be raising a glass to him.

Sunday 30 August 2009

From spice to something just nice!

It has been some time I know… well I have failed to perform as a good blogger and keep up to date with my postings… no excuses other than too many distractions and not enough discipline!

Well I have been searching for a topic that I think could be a good way to make a comeback to blogging and well I think I might have come up with a topic that is quite topical but also just that little bit quirky that could get some comments going…

Its summer time and well like many parents a visit to a tourist attraction is pretty much required to keep the youngsters amused… it ideally from and adult’s point of view needs to be both educational and also exciting.

Well I was all excited when I came across an article in my local French paper L’Independant whilst on holiday. The headline read “The Curry Sausage Museum in Berlin”. This admittedly was not on my doorstep but my god how could I have overlooked such an innovative and fascinating subject. The article went on to inform me that 800 million currywurst a year are consumed in Germany – this is 1,500 per minute. The currywurst was the brainchild of Herta Huewer in Berlin on the 4th September 1949…well on checking out their web site at http://www.currywurstmuseum.de/en/ there is a wealth of information and I discovered for just eleven euros entrance fee I could discover the world of the Currywurst… My next visit to Berlin is assured of my visit.

It was however an article a few years ago in a UK paper on Bekonscot Model Village that found me recently making a visit to this 80-year-old tourist attraction here in the UK. http://www.bekonscot.co.uk/ Located in a residential area of Beaconsfield just minutes from the M40 I found myself stepping back in time with what is the UK’s biggest and oldest model village.

It was fascinating to see something so old fashioned and traditional be attractive to so many generations. One family on entering (from Canada) were made up of four generations from the age of seven to seventy plus…amazing when you think of it.

The simplicity of the exhibits with the model train track and miniature houses for many would be not high tech or interactive enough but it seemed to fascinate all ages and raised a smile when you saw the name of the coal merchants delivery lorry “W.E. Humpitt & U. Burnett” or the Vegetable shop owned by “Chris. P. Lettis”

What also amazed me was the low-key commercialisation of the place. There was catering with a café of sorts but visitors were encouraged to bring their own picnics and a storage area provided to visitors whilst they wandered around. Prices in the café were not inflated and even the souvenir shop had plenty of good value pocket money tack for little ones.

It surprised me to see on departure the number of visitors to this attraction has now exceeded 14.5 million over the last eighty years… that curry museum in Berlin has got to go some to top that…

Sunday 10 May 2009

Menus by design...

I recently came across the following article "Menus by design" that makes some very interesting reading. It is by Nick Lander a venerated writer in the Financial Times and he hits the nail on the head with his comments.

For me the main bug bear I have with so many menus is the spelling mistakes often found within. With todays use computers to type/write a menu and the easy use of spell checking to correct them it is still amazing how many mistakes you will find. Simple grammar and misuse of culinary terms often abound.

It is however Mr Lander's opening comment that really does hit home "Menus are the financial and marketing lifeblood of any restaurant" It should be the first thing to entice your customer in to your establishment and it reflects and sells the skills of your kitchen and will be the first point of sale for the front of house staff - so why not a bit more design?