I met with an old friend recently for a well overdue beer. He has supported my journey all the way through, so we feel at home around each other, even if it’s been years between visits. Shane employed me as a second year apprentice and had a big hand in teaching me to cook. He’s also an avid fisherman and back in the day we’d spend our days off, out in my boat catching more fish than we could ever eat.
His journey has been an interesting one – after cooking he worked as an electrician briefly then moved north to start a Heritage Breed Free Range Pig Farm, Backfatters, and never looked back. He recently won artisan producer of the year at the 10year anniversary of the Delicious Produce Awards, so he’s getting a few things right.
I loved hearing about the dirt and mud, and early morning starts, and how much things have changed since the nights we’d work past 10pm serving up plate after plate of coral trout to a sea of people whose faces we never saw. I told Shane how different my game was now, and how much my mindset has improved since starting to work for myself.
These days, by the time I’m in someone’s home or chosen venue, I’ve communicated with him or her multiple times, maybe even met in person, and there’s a relationship established. I’m sometimes greeted with a hug and nearly always leave with a hug. The thanks I receive are real and heartfelt. The food I’m cooking hasn’t changed so much – it’s always been prepared with love. Heart and soul have gone into every dish, just like in kitchens all over the Coast. Most people who cook for a living want to create something they’re proud of. But the sad thing is we often don’t hear that you’ve enjoyed your meal. Even if you tell your waiter, they’re usually so busy the message is a diluted mumble as they race out the kitchen door with someone else’s meal – if your message makes it to the chef at all.
So from someone who’s seen both sides – let me share this with you. It makes every bit of difference when I hear you like my food. A little over two years ago, I considered finding a different career altogether, now, I hope it never changes.
So next time you’re out at a restaurant, stop by the kitchen as you leave. Tell the chef which part you liked most about your meal. Even if they’re running around like madmen and you only get a grunt as a reply, trust me, you just made someone’s day.