Visas for Top Foreign-Born Chefs are in Short Supply By:Adrian Jarrett, Volunteer BCA Newsletter Contributor
The most sought after document
for foreign professionals intending to live and work in the United States
is the H1-B visa. The purpose of the visa is to give U.S. employers
the opportunity to fill high-skilled roles when a U.S. citizen with
the required skill set is not available. To qualify, the visa candidate
needs to possess a Bachelor's or Master's degree or 12 years work
experience. There are many world-class foreign born chefs that fit this
criteria but the reality is that each year, large numbers of applications
for culinary professionals are denied.
This is not a recent development.
In 2006, The
New York Sun reported
on the 11-month struggle that the Indian-themed, Mint restaurant in
New York City had in hiring renowned Indian chef Rajan Safari, despite
the fact he had been critically acclaimed in both India and the U.K.
The problem for Safari and
so many other foreign culinary professionals is that United States Citizenship
and Immigration Services do not consider culinary skills as “specialized.”
“Specialized knowledge” in a business setting often refers to knowledge
of an organization's processes and procedures. Therefore, a chef often
needs to convince USCIS that they have the required management ability
and experience to pass the test.
The National Restaurant
Association is one of the major lobby groups for the foodservice industry
concerning immigration reform . However, its advocacy is primarily focused
with the plight of low
end service, labor and temporary jobs in the industry. Therefore,
the effect that immigration law has on the foodservice industry's ability
to recruit the best culinary talent from overseas has been largely overlooked.
However, it would be a grave
error to suggest that the two issues are not linked. I.T., Healthcare
and other technical industries also have a high demand for skilled workers
that are in short supply in the U.S. Each year only 65,000 H1B visas
are issued and technical professionals often have priority over professionals
from other industries as their work is deemed more integral to the performance
of the economy. In 2003, the cap was 195,000 visas and employers across
a wide range of industries would welcome a return to the 2003 figure,
but until widespread immigration reform the cap will likely remain at its current level.
Immigration reform received
little focus in President Obama's State of the Union address earlier
this year. This is unfortunate: while the current situation continues,
the foodservice industry is barred from a source of high quality, diverse
role models that could potentially act as mentors to the diverse culinary
professionals of tomorrow.
The Importance of Food and Wine Education By: Bob Lipinski
Education (Encarta Dictionary defines it as "the imparting and acquiring of knowledge through teaching and learning, especially at a school or similar institution") has been hailed as the cornerstone of growth, both personally and professionally. But, how does education traverse from the "teacher" to the student in a non-academic environment? Are informal lines of communication and instruction just as noteworthy or should they be viewed as sub-par versus their academic counterparts?
I believe that a program of on-going, timely seminars, with continuity of instruction and purpose can circumvent pure academic instruction. I say this as a former College Professor of Marketing and Management, now Director of Training for Southern Wine & Spirits, the largest wholesale distributor of alcoholic beverages in the United States.
Since early this year, Southern Wine & Spirits, and the W.J. Deutsch Company (wine & spirit importer) has teamed up with BCA (through the untiring efforts of its president, Alex Askew) to present a series of on-going seminars to its members, focusing on wine and food. Each seminar has a different wine focus, but continually emphasizes its relationship with food.
Wine, regardless if it is ordered "by-the-glass" or by the bottle in a restaurant, or purchased in your local wine shop (liquor store) is generally consumed with food. Statistically, more than 90 percent of all wine purchased in liquor stores is consumed with some type food. Therefore, a basic knowledge of wine and food is an absolute must, regardless if this knowledge is gained from a structured course, or simply imparted through trial and error. Seminars I present focus on the "why" certain foods and wine pair so well and "why" others do not! Culinary students preparing to embark on a career in the foodservice industry of course need to learn food preparation, knife skills, and business math. However, what is becoming equally important is their knowledge of wine, beer, distilled spirits, and sake, and, how each is paired with certain foods for optimum customer appreciation and enjoyment. Pairing wine and food is not an easy task.
In years past, food and wine writers were fond of issuing stern edicts about the pairing of wine with food. Not surprisingly, this thoughtful approach did little to interest Americans in accompanying their evening meals with wine. Eventually seeing a decline in wine with the meal, these same wine and food mavens decided to reverse course. Unfortunately, with the beginning of the 90s, the theme of which wine with which food became "do your own thing" or "if it tastes good, hey, drink it." Now they have gone too far and actually deprive individuals of gastronomic pleasures.
The old rule of "red wine with red meats" and "white wine with white meats," is simply that...old...and should not be followed. Instead, serve light food with light-bodied wines, heavy foods with full-bodied wines, dry foods with dry wines, and sweet foods with sweet wines. Pair food to wine, not wine to food. Wine is a relatively constant element, whereas the taste of food can be altered. Adjust food recipes to create a better marriage between the two. The intensity of the wine - white, red, or rosé should always match that of the food; subtly flavored foods require subtly flavored wines. As the complexity and intensity of the food increases, so should the complexity and intensity of the wine. The best approach to pairing food and wine is to identify the dominant flavor in each and determine if they are compatible. Accompany strongly flavored foods with strongly flavored wines. When you want the food to dominate, the wine should be submissive. Conversely, if the wine is to dominate, then the food should be submissive.
Good food appeals to all five senses. It should be attractive to look at, a pleasure to smell, feel good in the mouth, and, of course appeal to the taste.
The four key points to consider when pairing wine with food are: 1. the major ingredients in the food 2. The predominate flavor in finished food 3. The texture of finished food 4. The cooking method used
It is generally not the flavor or texture of the food you are matching, but rather the cooking method, taste of herbs, seasonings, and its sauce. The sauce can change the character of the food that affects the choice of wine. Few people eat freshly cooked pasta without sauce; it is the sauce you are matching. Pasta's texture should be al dente (firm to the bite), not overcooked, and reduced to a mushy, slimy, mash (or mess).
Wines should either complement or contrast with foods...not clash! Most often, foods and wines are combined based on similarity of sensations, yet occasionally true harmony results from a contrast. An example of clashing is after brushing your teeth you drink a glass of orange juice, or, have a sip of milk right after you have eaten a grapefruit; your mouth immediately goes into taste shock.
Wine and food pairings should enhance the enjoyment of the dining experience for individuals with different opinions and senses of personal taste.
Bob Lipinski, a Certified Sommelier, is the Director of Training for Southern Wine & Spirits of New York and author of "The International Beverage Dictionary."
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