Happy New Year to all of our followers, supporters, staff, friends etc. Every year around this time we come to some realizations about our lives, our work lives our situations as we see them... Also, every year we have a company staff meeting to air grievances that are growing to nip things in the bud. However, this year, we are taking stock of our lives. We are almost finishing our fourth year at Flying Fish. We have achieved recognition we could never have imagined but have not achieved any financial success.
We live in a strange market. For the most part you work 5 months of busy season to survive the next 7 months of slow season. This year has been our best year since we began this and hopefully we will see our first profit in our existence. While most people don't think it wise to discuss your businesses financial status, I think it helps people understand what we deal with every day. We are not looking for sympathy of any kind. The reality of doing business like we do business in the Bahamas and especially Grand Bahama is that you must never expect to do well. You simply hope to survive and do better the next year. We have done better every year since we started but still struggle. We have always tried to do the right thing. We always have tried to make our people feel better about their lives.
However...Here's the reality. I am a chef who was trained by chefs who beat us into submission. I have still got issues with anger and outbursts of emotion. And they never had to apologize for their behaviour. They were intentionally trying to weed out the weak. Those that crumbled under that pressure certainly would never survive hard intense services on really busy nights. We didn't want those weak people around when it counted.
However, times are changing. One thing we have been very good at is changing. This is a difficult one for me but we will change. We have come to the realization that as times change, only those willing to adapt survive. We have also come to the realization that we are also in need to change the old school need to work ourselves to death as well as our staff. This year we will work what we need to make it happen but enough to stay energized. We will make a conscious decision to make a living, but more importantly, make a life. We will travel more. We will spend time with friends as often as possible. We will do everything in our power to continue to be energized and creative and to help to nourish the creativity of our team.
I have been cooking now for 23 years professionally, and I feel like the game has changed. I am most interested now in continuing our creativity. It will be imperative that we spend time creating every day. Every week the team will have their own input into my mind. And me into theirs.
The thing about that is....90% of my kitchen team has little to no experience. Even my right hand man and Chef de Cuisine Tito, was entirely trained by me. It is so difficult to try and harness youthful ideas that have no basis for reality. However, I remember something that changed my life forever. When I was an apprentice my chef at the time asked us each to come up with a dish, The best one went on the menu. That dish is my Calamari with Brown Butter. Without that dish, my life would be completely different. I think it's important to foster growth like this. However, I had already run restaurants when I got that opportunity.
It is difficult to find the balance between giving people the opportunity to contribute to the creativity of the kitchen and keeping the quality of the food at its highest level. How do you keep people from becoming upset or offended when their ideas don't make the cut. We will have to see how this plays out but I will definitely do my best to give everyone a say. My senior team of Chef Tito Edden, who is my right hand, Chef Chelly Brown, who runs our pastry section and one of my dearest and oldest kitchen friends Shanin Weber-Hughes have all had their stamp on our menu. 90% of all the food still comes from me. But we all are getting a say. It's important for people to have a feeling like they are contributing in a meaningful way. It is a big issue for us, to manage everyone in a way that keeps people motivated. However, it is more important that the future of Flying Fish is to be the best restaurant the Caribbean has even known. In that regard, we will continue on our path to be the best on the table and in the workplace.
Have a great 2016,