Where have we come from?
“If you were to ask me 15 years ago what I thought the future of the restaurant industry would look like today, my answer would have been way off.
Back then I was working in a basement in New York. It was a game to see who could stay out the latest after work and who could show up the earliest. There were fist fights in the kitchen and a lot hurt feelings on a daily basis. The person working next to you was your best friend and your worst enemy.
We were living our lives in the basement and nobody except for us knew what was going on. We liked it that way. It was kind of like a secret society.
Where are we?
As you all know, that has drastically changed in the last 10 years. Particularly in the last five years.
We saw the rise of the TV chef, then the celebrity chef, and now some chefs are revered on the same pedestals as famous rock stars, esteemed scholars and even politicians. Now the general public wants to know exactly what is going on in the kitchen. They want everything in real time and because of social media, they have all of this information at their finger tips.
So now that all chefs (in theory) are famous and driving fancy sports cars around, you would have thought we’d made it.
The only thing that all this means is that we have to work harder. We are no longer hiding out in the basement. We have a voice and with that voice comes responsibility.
Where we are we going?
“Impact”. That’s what I always tell my cooks. If you approach every situation in the kitchen with a consciousness of how your actions will impact the others around you then so many things will just fall into place.
This holds true for how you run a restaurant. The whole philosophy at Amass is based on impact. How will we impact the people that come after us? After we had been open for 6 months I was asked: “What is important to you?” In my head I heard: “What kind of impact do you want to have on those that come behind you?” Then in that next second I said to myself: “How can we start working more responsibly? How can we set an example for the next generation of cooks and restaurateurs?”
Now all of this happened inside of my head in a matter of probably 2 seconds. Then it just came out with out me having time to properly process it. Some might call it verbal vomit. I like to think of it as instinct. Maybe?.. So there it was!
That single question and its uncalculated answer set us heading down the path we are now on. I guess this was my subconscious telling me that it was tired of waiting for me to make this decision.
Now that the commitment was in place, I started to ask myself questions:
What does it mean to be responsible?
What kind of impact do I want to have on the people that come after me?
What is the single most important change you have to make in order to
head down this path?
As a whole, the restaurant industry is cooking very irresponsibly. We are cooking like we are going to have these amazing products available for all of eternity. We are in denial about the reality of the state of the planet. We need to switch up our way of thinking, we need to re-calibrate our brains and start to be pro-active.
Back in that basement in New York we couldn’t think past 6pm when the doors would first open. Now we need to start thinking beyond our generation.
In the words of Wes Jackson (founder of The Land Institute): “If your life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough”