Food news: Anthony Bourdain's death prompts restaurant mental health and wellness discussion
In the wake of Anthony Bourdain's death, there has been a lot of talk about mental health and wellness in the restaurant business. Bourdain was such a role model for many chefs - and the reason they got into the profession in the first place - that it was bound to have a big impact.
All jobs have their stresses and strains, but the high-pressure environment of restaurants and the anti-social/anti-family working hours present a particular challenge to mental health and wellbeing of staff.
The Cork-based Market Lane Group, which includes four restaurants - Elbow Lane, Market Lane, Orso and The Castle Café (pictured above) - and a microbrewery, is one of only two Irish companies to be awarded a Pieta House Amber Flag. It has also been presented with an inaugural Cork Healthy Cities PSYCHED Award.
The Amber Flag initiative recognises the individual efforts of groups to create healthy, inclusive environments that support mental wellbeing. It unites these groups in their efforts to work toward a happier, healthier Ireland; one that eradicates the stigmas associated with mental health issues. PSYCHED Awards focus solely on the business community and are based on what employers are doing in the area of employee wellness and mental health in the workplace.
The Market Lane Group employs more than 160 staff and takes a people-centric approach to everything that it does. In its company manual, the group outlines its commitment to providing an inclusive and open working environment that is free from any form of bullying or harassment; to welcoming diversity and recognising its contribution to the success of the business, and to the group's belief in equality of opportunity based on ability and merit.
Managers work on the ground alongside the rest of the staff, helping to create a team spirit and an open channel to talk when stresses and pressures arise from personal lives or work. These managers are also trained to notice and to act appropriately on these issues with colleagues. In addition, there is a 'wellness team' within the company, including staff from all aspects of the business, who are actively involved in wellness initiatives all year round.
At a time when recruiting and retaining staff is a huge issue, initiatives such as these can only help restaurant businesses become a happier and healthier work environment.
Suesey Street's annual lobster festival runs until the end of August, with a brand-new lobster menu created by Richard Stearn to showcase the fabulous crustacean. Dishes include grilled lobster with basil and saffron emulsion, triple-cooked chips, pickled fennel and orange salad. See sueseystreet.ie
Enniscorthy's Rockin' Food Festival takes place over the bank holiday weekend, with an artisan food and drink market and a host of events including a chocolate truffle- making experience, a wine and Irish charcuterie night, and a Norman harvest banquet. See facebook.com/rockinfoodfestival
Waterford Harvest Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year over the weekend of September 7-9, with a tasty programme that includes communal dining, bake-offs, demonstrations, chef collaborations and a plethora of family-friendly events. See waterfordharvestfestival.ie