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>Also, if what a friend who is also a trained chef told me is true, incomes vary widely in the restaurant industry.
True enough. There's a lot of variation. 8 quid an hour is fairly typical for a CDP (line cook) of an unexceptional restaurant, but usually you'll also get a share of tips, and in a busy restaurant that can work out to be two or three pounds extra per hour. Also consider that many chefs are doing 60 hour weeks, and it adds up, though it's still hugely unfair considering the amount of work they're doing.
The industry is shooting itself in the foot, as underpaying your general staff leads very quickly to staff shortages, which means you need to hire an agency chef, and they get paid 12-15 quid an hour at the very least, plus agency fees. So, all the disgruntled chefs at Carluccios or Zizzi or wherever tell them to shove their zero hour minimum wage contract up their arse and go work for the agencies. When I was agency I was sold as a head chef, and I was making 25-35 an hour depending on how desperate they were for someone competent.
Probably the smartest thing any competent British chef can do is fuck off to Dubai. I have friends there pulling silly money, 100k+ running their hotels, and the teams are so huge you get to spend a lot of your time on the fun stuff.
I've certainly worked with much cuntier people than him. Like you say, he's an incredibly chef and most of the team who have worked under him in his heyday are industry leaders in their own right, most with at least their own restaurant under their belt. So a bit of screaming is absolutely worth it for working with one of the most talented and knowledgeable men in the industry.
It's impossible to be a good chef without being passionate, and in a hot, cramped, stressful, noisy environment, this passion is most easily manifested as aggression. There's not really time during service in a place like that to gently prod someone or talk them through their mistakes, you just have to shout at them to fix it, and if they're not capable of fixing it, then they have to fuck off. The risks are too great at that level - lose a michelin star and you lose a couple of million in revenue that year.
Many chefs insist it's impossible to run a kitchen at any level without this aggressive demeanour, but that's really not true, I don't even think it's the easiest way - but you chuck 8 blokes in a 35C metal box for 14 hours and the natural response is a bit of shouting, so that Ramsay style is found all over. I happen to think it's much easier and less fatiguing to run a kitchen calmly. You can still apply pressure without calling someone a donkey, you can still bark orders without sounding like you want to kill someone. I find it makes for a more efficient team, and you're much less likely to have anyone walk out mid shift on you - a frequent occurrence in the industry.
Rene Redzepi doesn't allow shouting or swearing at all at Noma, yet that managed to be literally the best restaurant in the world, so it's definitely not necessary.