Tuesday, April 03, 2012

This Gun for Hire

Here’s a scenario

A chef is hired by two business partners that operate a restaurant. In time the efforts of the chef raise the profile of the restaurant and it begins to attract FOH staff commensurate with the high level of food delivery and its reputation spreads. Further down the track, the restaurant becomes a profitable enterprise and also garners some critical praise in the process. Plans of expansion are laid on the table with a more casual version of the restaurant and the chef is made a minor partner.

Now this partnership can work several ways. One model is to give the chef in question a percentage of profit. Now the cynic in me has always been adverse to this suggestion because experience has taught me that restaurateurs who have transparency in their book keeping are about as common as getting a house made cake in a coffee-chain café-it very rarely happens. Another template is to offer the chef a share in the value of the business which is also problematic as opinions and expectations are frequently different between partners. It also opens the cans of worms as to the currency of the chef who might be of the opinion that their contribution is worth more to the business than is on offer. This is a common quandary for experienced kitchen practitioners.

This brings me to my scenario. Say this chef employed as previously stated but rationalizes that he/she has an expectation to earn more money for plying their trade. They are approached by or approach another business to consult for a fee with the proviso that they don’t intentionally replicate the menu design or food style that the original business is noted for.

Is this mercenary behaviour of the chef? Do the original owners have a right to feel aggrieved? Does the chef or the restaurant own the intellectual property? What’s a fair price for a person’s creativity?

Professional sports people regularly swap team allegiances and it’s usually because of money not loyalty and yet it passes often without judgement. An old boss of mine was fond of this particular analogy, “The Priests come and go but the Church will always be there”.

I’m not so sure that this is still appropriate I mean, look around, how many restaurant-institutions remain in the scheme of things? You could name a handful for sure; usually places where great efforts are made to ensure no-one knows the name of the chef lest it water-down the impact of the brand and its venerable lineage.

Maybe this ‘out-sourcing’ or ‘sub-contracting’ of ones skills is just a sign of the times?


ut si said...

Nice post Sir.

Old Bank said...

How deep is the trust? If one venture does better than the other it'll be the chef's fault in the owners' minds (except the more successful one where it's nothing to do with the chef) ;)

steve said...

Hi Collette, thanks for reading

G'day OB-wan-What is this 'Trust' of which you speak?