The Good Life
Updated: Sep 17, 2019
Hi: I work in the industry too….
A good friend said that you should always start a story in the middle so you can go back and forth to all the good parts.
I hope I am right in the middle of my story.
In July I officially moved to London, England. I have been “leaving” Toronto, Canada since January and now I am here. I thought “London is a lot like Toronto so the shift should be EASY. I mean; the language is the same, the street names are the same, how big of a transition can it be? The English put a 'u' in neighbour, too.”
WOW was I in for a surprise. Yes, I expected the building to be older and more beautiful (they are.) I thought the regional accents would be charming (they are,) and there would be a few words that have slightly different nuances and meanings (more than I imagined.)
BUT I was not prepared to see such a cultural difference in the hospitality sector. It has all the diversity that I am used to and expect: restaurants that are owned and operated by expats sharing a world of cuisine right on my doorstep….and the doorsteps of over 8 million residents (13 million if you count the GLA.) However, there is one major difference. A paltry 12.5% tip is usually included in the price of the meal.
FACT CHECK. It is not a typo. 12.5%. That represents a couple of pounds, charged right on the bill, that may (or may not) go into the pocket of the person serving you. And it is not obligatory to pay. I am Floored by this. Obsessed with it. Reinventing the entire local industry…. if only tipping was customary.
At every restaurant encounter I lead with: “Hi; I work in the industry too!”
I have been working in hospitality since 1979 (my parents bought a cottage resort in the Kawarthas; and I started my hospitality career making ice for the fishermen and tourists.)
I worked for tips. I have always worked for tips. And the best thing anyone can say to a waiter is “I work in the industry, too…” In Canadian English it translates loosely as I will tip at least 20-28% on the total if the service is good. It is often is reciprocated with the best service, a good story, and a sometimes a complimentary shot of ______ (fill in the blank.)
I love good service.
Let’s face it I am a good cook. (30+ years in the industry.) I don’t need to eat out. I want to eat out. I want to know the 5 W’s of how this food ended up on our table. The world is changing, and I want to know everything about the food we are eating. The chef cannot always come to the table. Should I expect my waiter to be as passionate? Should I expect them to care if I am enjoying my food? If my company is being entertained? Should I refill my own wine and water glass during a meal? Should the tip be included on the bill and am I required to pay the amount listed?
I am starting a list. THE LIST. One for each place I have visited or dream to go to. I will share my adventures, mishaps, lesson learned and the stories of where the food came from. Oh, and some recipes of course! I hope you will add to it. I have reams of emails/texts/and scraps of paper with names of restaurants and markets around the world and my goal is to put them in a tidy file and share them with you.
As the last to join the online world of “blogging” (call a spade a spade…she said,) I hope the interaction benefits my travelling friends in a practical way. If nothing else, is a good excuse to pause, dream and remember that we all share a common bond. We need to eat to survive.
There are so many great blogs out there with TOP 5 or 10 of everything. I don’t want to put a number on anything. Check back as the lists will change and grow over time.
Please add, comment and share your stories and recommendations. If you didn’t have a great experience; a simple x will do. No need to embellish; unless it is a really good story.
P.S. Here is a recipe for maple butter tarts from the back of a map of the Kawartha Lakes. It published in the late 70's by The Kawartha Lakes Tourist Association; a group that my parents were affiliated with long before social media and websites. Even at my cafe I alway use Amber Maple Syrup from Kennedy Farms.