I had a great experience at a children’s home at Palakkad in Kerala once. It was a dazzling Sunday morning—many a time I wake up with the memories of the day and the place. It has been almost three decades since I left home to chase a dream, but fond memories of people and places have always been a great inspiration as I recollect these experiences often.
Most children at the shelter home in Palakkad, when asked about their future career, replied: “I want to join the police!” Obviously, they couldn’t say why and sadly no one wanted to be a chef. I would have loved to share this story with my colleagues on the night we regroup for Christmas dinner.
On December 23 every year, a staff get-together happens before restaurants shut for holidays and it is a momentous occasion for all of us to thank, celebrate, and unequivocally exonerate from all doubts and falling-outs of the past 12 months. It’s a night of free will and long-awaited timeout, also to eat and drink well throughout the night!
Unlike other years, this time we opted to have a group interaction after the lovely music performance by Sachin with Manoj on the tabla. We summoned every member to speak a few words about their experience at work and the way forward with Rasa.
It was moving to hear sweet words from our teammates who work with us on a diurnal basis and sometimes wondered what their opinion on the organisation and work here. As time flew by, some started chatting more, thanks to sips, recreation and trance music.
It is customary for me to speak to the team that day and touch events of the year and future plans of the company.
Sometimes it’s tricky to address folks you encounter daily, that also after a busy season when most people are tired of work, so we don’t talk about food, instead just eat together. I must say, I look forward to that evening to share feelings to motivate the team to have more camaraderie at workplace.
Once, reflecting on labour in catering industry on that day, it was disheartening to find that people naively enter this job and its merit. And we rely on students for waiting jobs, who gaze at remote aims in life and take up this work for eating authentic food and making some pocket money whilst they continue studies.
But listening to them directly, it was reassuring that most kids felt restaurants were home to them, especially nostalgia of family and culture. I had the privilege of meeting some former employees who have become successful business people today. Most of them said, “Working in the restaurant was the most important experience of their life.”
Now cream of our industry come from people who either chose to be a part of this trade out of sheer veneration or catering students aspiring to become top professionals. In fact, this group needs more impetus since they get jaded doing same thing and occasionally lack patience for seeing fruits of their own labour. Some easily give up for scope of great feats.
That’s our reverie for this New Year, to enrich this industry with those full of fervour and brains to pick this trail. We can’t wait for the day when our boys and girls join hospitality jobs with a definite purpose and cleanse old attitude with a smile. Rasa Gurukul will open its doors to this very thought. We will aim to bring out kids with brilliant ideas for future and how service industry could inculcate positive vibes to make a big difference in our society.
The author is a London-based restaurateur who owns the Rasa chain of restaurants