Only those who have worked on the other side of those kitchen doors know what it is truly like. If you have not experienced the urgent pressure, ever present, inside a commercial kitchen, it is hard to do it justice in words. The temperature is always high and hot in the kitchen, whatever the time of the year. The chef is always hot under the collar and baying for your blood if you stuff something up. The dish pig is a sweaty, stained, sea-going type creature inhabiting a steamy realm of Tartarus. Waiters whizz in and out in a tension filled ballet of juggled plates and cutlery. If you don’t know where to look and where to step, it is a minefield of accidents just waiting to happen.

Hospitality: A Hazardous Affair

It is slippery underfoot in places; and naked flames leap upwards from the stovetop range. The barking chef demands quick service. “Yes Chef”, rings out and bounces off the walls in double time. Razor sharp knives are wielded by desperate cooks and kitchenhands. A flash of steel and a severed finger is only millimetres away. Stacks of wide white plates are slammed down by the dish pig upon stainless steel benches and shelves. The reverberating shock records decibels of possible damage to one’s ears.

Nobody survives unharmed for long, with fire licking out, and deep fryers spitting boiling oil; your skin is a soft target. The speed of service increases your risk of injury tenfold. The paranoia present in the kitchen fills the atmosphere with poison. The nightmare of overcooked flesh and undercooked aspirations hangs over our heads like the Sword of Damocles. Will we make it through a service without being harangued by the white capped ogre? The odds are stacked against us and the hundreds of orders fluttering above us don’t augur well for achieving perfection tonight.

The police cry out, “officer down”, when one of theirs is seriously injured. In the kitchen, we do not have that protocol in place. Getting the blood off the big white plate is the first thought; and another steps up and takes their place on the production line. Thoughts about OH & S legal services will come later, when sitting, waiting in Emergency at the local hospital. Holding your bleeding stump in bandaged hand and awaiting some professional assessment from the all-night intern. Hospitality: A hazardous affair and not for the faint hearted.