Tribute to the late Gordon TuckettApril 16th, 2012 by Susan Reynard | Categories: food, industry, people
(Pictured above are the 1988 Culinary team, with Gordon Tuckett in the centre with the tickets. Included are a series of photographs capturing Gordon Tuckett with his family and members of industry through the years, that were used at his memorial service, kindly shared here by his daughter Joanna Brown.)
Philippe Frydman, consultant to the hospitality industry and chairman of the Academy of Chefs, the honour society within the South African Chefs Association, touches on some sensitive issues here following the sad passing of Gordon Tuckett on 6 March 2012:
“Today was an eye opener for me. I was sitting at the Fourways Memorial Park listening to Gordon Tuckett’s son give the eulogy for his Dad. I met Gordon over 25 years ago just after I arrived in South Africa and was so impressed by the fact that just by looking at an empty room you could see in his eyes the kitchens starting to developed themselves.
“I asked him about it and he tried to explain that he was just imagining what would fit and where, then using his chef’s background he would visualize himself in that kitchen working every department from the dishwashing to the pass and the belief was so great that the design became almost easy to produce or at least that how he made it look.
“Over the years I tried to follow his philosophy as well as his approach and I must say with some success. He was the first person with whom I discussed the possibility of banning architects from building kitchens as to avoid all the pillars of the building ending up in the kitchen.
“On a serious note he used all his past experience to ensure that any design he would put together would work and that convincing the clients that it would work was easy since he knew what he was talking about and could back up whatever he proposed because he just knew not by having studied it but having done it.
“Now coming back to my ‘light bulb’ moment, looking around the room I only noticed five white jackets and all were members of the Academy of Chefs and all over, way over, the age of 50. No youngsters, no trainees, no up and coming ‘SuperChefs’ and this is when it happened.
“What are we teaching our youngsters? Most of the young chefs today know about Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Bill Gates. They also have read most of the books from Gordon Ramsay, Heston and Cake Boss, BUT how many of the youngsters know who help put South Africa on the culinary map?
“Victor Strugo is recognized as the best food critic currently operating out of South Africa and one of the reasons is that he not only looks and taste the food but he also researches where the food comes from and who was the recipe created for. Once he has all that information he then and only then visits the establishment where he checks out the menu and orders what he understands.
“So why don’t we teach our young chefs where the passion came from, who created all these culinary schools we now have, who brought the culinary world to South Africa first?
“I was talking to Alan and Val Stricke of Fisherman Grotto fame a few weeks ago and Alan told me that he walk into a catering company lately and nobody knew who is was.
“I would be interested to know how many of our young and not so young professional know about the Bocuse D’Or, where it emanated from, who were the first three South African participants? Who is Lucas Ndlovu and what did he do to make history at the Bocuse D’Or?
“All the new generation knows that ‘The Fat Duck’ had to close its door for a while under suspicion of food poisoning and that Gordon Ramsay owes his father-in-law millions of dollars but as it is said ‘local is lekker’ and we need to make the current generation and all the ones to come of what we have to offer.
“In the last 12 months we have lost at least five great culinary minds and only the old guard is seen at the memorial services. Considering that it is old guard that is passing the last one will be very lonely.
“So I appeal to all educators, HOD and so on – keep the flame burning. Let the youth of today know who are these ‘old farts’ that walking around with all these medals and insignia on their jackets. Let them know where those grey hairs come from and what history is attached to those wrinkles.
“Most of all I hope that these few words will be taken in the context they are meant and that from now on the young generation with the help of the educators will give the elders the respect they deserve.”
Manfred Muellers (CMC), senior lecturer in hospitality management, in the Faculty of Management at the University of Johannesburg, shared his thoughts on Tuckett: “I had the pleasure to work with Gordon at Fedics Natal in the early years. His knowledge in HR and kitchen design made me ask Gordon many years later to do guest lectures at the Hotel School for our third year final year students. Gordon was a great gentleman and friend. I and many of my esteemed colleagues in the hospitality industry will miss him but never forget Gordon. Rest in peace my friend.”