Welcome to this week’s editorial,
An interesting week for those who tuned in to watch celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge’s TV show, Kitchen Nightmare, that saw him engage with a local Batemans Bay restaurant and basically dissect it to reveal the underbelly and the failures of its operation. With some promoting the show with the question “Can COLIN FASSNIDGE defrost Batemans Bay Frozen Seafood Restaurant?” it was bound to gain the attention of Batemans Bay locals, and they tuned in in droves as was evident by the chatter on social media the following day. In the end, following some serious truth-telling, it appears that there may be hope for the restaurant in question, if only the indignant owner accepts what was said, addresses his failures, and pays more respect to his staff and patrons.
The general line of the Kitchen Nightmare program was that the local restaurant owner, by his own admission, thought that by appearing on Colin’s program, he might gain free publicity. Little did he realise that Colin would come in and reveal, not only to the staff, but to the chef and the clientele, that the seafood was in fact frozen rather than fresh and that it came from Vietnam and Brazil, whilst being suggested as fresh, and therefore local. The bottom line was that by using imported frozen product it reduced costs and maximised profits.
The Kitchen Nightmare program went behind the scenes where we discovered that the chef wasn’t on a full time salary, had little if any control of the menu and was in line to lose his job once an alternate chef could be found. The potential of termination for the chef, like many other under-employed workers across the region, clearly posed an imbalance in the working relationship. It was evident that there was a clear divide between management and staff, there was a power difference, and that things weren’t good, but when asked if everything was OK the owner said it was all fine and that everyone was happy, as did the staff, as they warily looked over their shoulders.
When the owner was confronted by Colin that things were not rosy at all and that the menu was bland, overpriced and in need of change the response was that it was all OK, no-one had complained, and therefore there was no need to make any changes. This presented a crossroads to Colin Fassnidge.
It was clear that the owner was failing to take responsibility of his poor management and his failure to listen and to respect both his staff and his patrons. And it seemed that he was not receptive to being told otherwise. The intent to use the program to tell the world how good he was was in fact seriously backfiring.
Kitchen Nightmare had two options. To walk away, or to turn it around. Colin chose to stay and support the staff and most importantly the chef. Hopefully the resolutions made by the owner as a result of the new menu and the salaried employment of the now empowered chef will remain in place. Time will tell.
This coming week will see a new General Manager arrive at Eurobodalla Council. It is hoped that he might be a ‘Colin Fassnidge’ and conduct his own investigations of what many know of as a Kitchen Nightmare.
Much like the owner of the restaurant there are those in Council who will declare that everything is rosy and there is nothing to change. They will say that the staff are happy and content, well respected and resourced and that there is nothing that should be changed as there is nothing broken.
But much like a poor restaurant where feedback and complaint is ignored, the Council’s equivalent of the owner has seen complaint basically ignored, as too the festering toxicity that has developed over recent years.
While there have been some changes, along with a new term of Council who have their eyes and ears open, there remains the remnants of the resistance by a small, but influential few, to recognise that the time has come to face the truth and either adapt or leave. Hopefully the new General Manager, along with a new term of councillors will bring a turn around that will see us have a council we can once again trust and be proud of, that engages and truly serves the community instead of delivering the blinkered unquestionable “my way or the highway” authoritarian approach it offers without apology’.
There is an opportunity now to restore trust, pay overdue respect to hard working council employees to afraid to make comment, and to deliver a better outcome for the community. Most importantly, there is an opportunity to finally rid out selves of the toxicity that still lingers, and to make the changes we need, and deserve.
Above: "Be sure to look under the carpets. And look carefully at the cracks because that is where the light gets in".