Chefs in the UAE Lead by Example and Support the #FairKitchens Movement

The initiative addresses issues behind kitchen doors and leads on the topic of wellbeing F&B leaders like Chef Joanne, Chefs Nick & Scott and Chef Shane are building on the initiative and incorporating wellbeing practices within their kitchens
Chef Joanne Limoanco-Gendrano, Executive Chef - Middle East, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Unilever Food Solutions

The #FairKitchens movement, focused on the overall wellbeing and mental health of the foodservice industry has recently launched in the UAE. Aiming to set a quality standard and work environment for young, budding chefs, the initiative encourages F&B leaders to incorporate the #FairKitchens Code which outlines five core values called ‘TEAMS’ (T – Talk openly, E – Excite passion, A – Act as one, M – Make time, S – Say ‘good job’) that are designed to support the industry and its teams.

A research conducted locally by Unilever Food Solutions has shown that 44% of chefs feel stressed, 20% feel overwhelmed from excess available information online and only 10% of them feel optimistic about the future. Through partnering with chefs and highlighted food critics across the industry, the #FairKitchens movement seeks to shine a light upon and provide a platform to share solutions created by industry professionals.

Chef Joanne Limoanco-Gendrano, Executive Chef - Middle East, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Unilever Food Solutions says, “I’ve always been passionate about teaching and training and have also spearheaded the Unilever Food Solution’s Chefmanship Academy program across the Southeast Asia region. As a leader, being patient and attentive to staff is very important. Motivating employees, telling them that they’ve done a good job and making time to mentor and empower them goes a long way. The #FairKitchens code is something I ensure is implemented in my kitchen and I try to encourage my colleagues in the industry to do the same. I believe that open communication is essential in building a positive work environment for each individual and for a team to thrive.”

Chef Shane Macneill - Shanghai Me

Shane Macneill, Head Chef of Shanghai Me says “Employee engagement is vital to mental well-being in any workplace. Undeniably, kitchens can be incredibly challenging, high-stress and time sensitive environments and as a Head Chef, it is my responsibility to create the ultimate safe and supportive atmosphere for my team to fuel their flame to do what they love. Teamwork in the kitchen is critical for creating the best food experiences. I make sure to share my vision, passion and motivation with my sous chefs and cooks, getting them excited about seasonal food changes and involving them in new menu ideas and dishes.

“I pride myself on having cultivated a human connection with each and every member of my team, encouraging their creativity, ensuring they are fulfilled, learning something new and offering constructive guidance on a daily basis. Motivation and support are the keys to happiness in the kitchen, and when we work as a team we can achieve so much more.”

Chefs Nick Alvis and Scott Price

Award-winning chefs, Nick Alvis and Scott Price, chef patrons at folly by Nick & Scott commented: “We treat our whole team as a big family, as we spend as much (if not more) time together than with our own families so it’s important that we can all work together and trust each other.”

“Nick and I have an open door policy and really want the team to come and speak to us about anything that’s affecting them in or out of work. We feel this is important as the team represent the venue and if there is something wrong then it is definitely felt throughout  the team.” says Scott.

Nick adds, “Staff food is a really important time, we really push the team to all take time together (front and back of house) to sit and relax and eat some good nutritious food. It’s always a good time of the day and Scott and I always eat with the team as it is times like these when you can really learn about different personalities and any potential issues they may have.”

The global #FairKitchens movement has recently been launched in the UAE and aims to foster happier and safer kitchens that have faced lack of recognition, long hours, and negligible career progression. Sign up on the Fair Kitchens page to collaborate and create an impact with Unilever Food Solutions Arabia. Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #FairKitchens and #WellbeingInTheKitchen.