It is often said that business is like cooking, although an Excel spreadsheet and PowerPoint marketing plan are usually less tasty than rack of lamb with a redcurrant jus and pomme fondant followed by a tarte tatin with crème anglaise, all washed down with a fine Pomerol.
Good chefs, however, do know a thing or two about business: how to deal with customers, get timings right, innovate and produce results.
Be warned, though. The man management skills of some can leave something to be desired. Although plenty of chefs are quiet, nerdy types, get a wannabe hot shot chef on your team and you'll be seeing a lot of overtime claims coming in from the HR department. Brandishing a frying pan at someone while shouting and swearing is usually not behaviour that is welcome in the accounts department, while knife throwing in the office is almost certainly illegal, unless you work in the circus.
But overtime for the chef is an alien concept. The search for excellence and success means working from before dawn until after midnight, all the time concentrating on both the tiniest details and the bigger picture.
Success in the chef trade also means providing a service at times when customers want and need it — a lesson many businesses could still do well to learn.
The chef in your office is the workaholic who likes to be in charge, who likes to know every detail of the business and wants to be left alone to create something, with a regular team who do what they are told. He is not motivated by money alone, but by happy customers, an award or two and the feeling of a job well done. He's content in hot, cramped conditions — as long as he is allowed off the leash after hours — and will eat almost anything. All in all, he likes military style training (not for nothing is a kitchen team called a brigade) and as long as you feed his ego he'll be fine. And if you put a swear box in the office, by Christmas you'll have raised enough for a party.
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