An industry that meets the multiple needs of people and is very critical for macroeconomic development is the hotel industry. When we talk about the hospitality industry, food (preparation) is an important factor. So we cannot talk about food preparation in the hospitality industry without talking about those responsible, that is, the chefs who work in the kitchen. A chef de cuisine is defined as someone who cooks for people in a professional manner and has professional skills in all different segments of food preparation.
It is noteworthy that, distinguishing how much one is busy on a daily basis and does not want to serve any visitors, one visitor to pay attention to anyway is food. The importance of food and chefs must have informed Obasesam Omini Etimita’s decision to spend time and write about the fundamentals of the culinary profession in this book titled “My Chef”, dedicated to Elder (Mrs.) Comfort Agbonibuan Imoke (nee Imoukhuede) FWCN, a Nigerian.
Etimita, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), is an Associate Member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Nigeria (ICPAN). A 1996 Graduate of Accounting from the Old Polytechnic, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria, Etimita also has an MBA from the University of Calabar, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. She is the auditor of Obudu Ranch Hotel & Resort, Obudu, Cross River State, Nigeria. Etimita has served in external and internal audit functions.
According to the author, throughout Nigeria, diverse in many ways and beautiful in different capacities, there is a profession without diversity, that is, the culinary profession. Etimita surprisingly says that when 1000 students were asked “Who is a cook?”, 95 percent of them answered correctly. He adds that when he asked another question, “Who is a chef?”, only two percent answered correctly. The author states that the same trend was manifested in an evaluation of the adult class. He says that this ignorance about a chef has negatively influenced people’s perception of the culinary profession. Etimita adds that henceforth parents should encourage their children to become chefs and ensure the availability of basic infrastructure for culinary practice.
The author reveals that the idea for this book arose from a long-standing concern about the way our society views the chef and the culinary profession. He specifically says that Nigerians view this important role with an ancient understanding of a common cook. A Nigerian company that is very determined to be first in the tourism and hospitality business must rejuvenate the appetites of its local chefs to engage more through social recognition, advises Etimita. The author adds that we really need to get to know the chef and how important his skills are to our daily lives.
This book is divided into eight chapters. Chapter one is interrogatively titled “Who is a chef?” Here, Etimita claims that getting to the top of kitchen management is a chef. He says that interestingly, men dominate in number what is traditionally assumed for women.
Etimita educates that a chef is a person who cooks professionally. He adds that in a professional kitchen setting, the term is used only for the person in charge of everyone else in the kitchen, the executive chef. The author says according to wikipedia, the word “Chef”, made from the Latin word “Caput” is the shortened form of the French phrase “Chef de cooking”, which means “Head” or “Head” of a kitchen. Etimita adds that the title “Chef” in the culinary profession has its origins in “haute cuisine” in the 19th century. He reveals that the English use of the word “Chef” has become a term sometimes used to refer to any professional cook.
Etimita says Wikipedia further educates that specialized, hierarchical chef titles are typically found only in fine-dining, luxury restaurants; while kitchen staff members in casual restaurants, such as diners, are more often referred to as “cook” or “fast food cook”.
Chapter two has the theme of cooking and history. Here, Etimita illuminates that the chef’s habitat is the domicile, a place where a chef is easily found or can be seen. It is the input environment required for the production of the specified chef’s menu, says the author. Etimita adds that it is called “the kitchen” and is often referred to as the “power station”. The author says that without the kitchen, the chef may not exist or would never have been a great captain in the noble profession.
Etimita says that each member of the kitchen staff is delegated to perform a specific function with the supervision of the head chef. According to him, compared to what happens in the kitchen at home or in traditional cooking, the chef finds himself in a complex, scientific and magnificent structure.
Chapter three is titled “The Unique Role of a Chef.” Here, Etimita teaches that someone who holds the title of chef has unique responsibilities. In his words, “A person who is a chef will be responsible for planning set menu items and any specials. In addition, the chef is generally responsible for placing food orders and cookware orders necessary to allow for meal preparation.” The author adds that the chef will also address complaints about his kitchen staff and resolve those issues.
Etimita emphasizes that in addition to planning the menu, the chef is also responsible for creating the recipes and may or may not allow assistant chefs to participate. He reveals that pursuing a career as a chef can be both challenging and rewarding.
Chapter four focuses on the concept of food as the path to the heart of man. The author says that it is striking to note that everyone considers the services of a chef essential to life. According to Etimita, food contains essential nutrients for the body. He says that nutrients consist of elements like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, etc. The author elaborates on how these nutrients are ingested to produce energy, stimulate growth and sustain life. The chef falls in love with the ingredients to produce food, says Etimita.
Chapter five examines the concept of a balanced diet for digestion. According to the author, balancing the diet to facilitate digestion is the main responsibility of a professional cook. Etimita says this skill is any chef’s signature for a healthy diet for guests. The author elaborates on the fact that a healthy diet is one that helps to maintain or improve health. He adds that a healthy diet is important for the prevention of many health problems such as obesity, heart failure, diabetes, cancer, etc.
Etimita says that a healthy diet involves consuming an adequate amount of all nutrients and an adequate amount of water. Nutrients can be obtained from different types of foods, and there is a wide variety of healthy diets that can be selected from different types of foods, the author reports. He says that an unhealthy diet is a major risk factor when it comes to health.
The World Health Organization, according to Etimita, estimates that 2.7 million deaths are attributable to a diet low in fruits and vegetables each year. The author adds that globally, unhealthy diets are estimated to cause about 19 percent of gastrointestinal cancers; 31 percent of heart disease and 11 percent of strokes. Therefore, an unbalanced diet is one of the main preventable causes of death worldwide, says Etimita.
In chapters six through eight, he analytically analyzes concepts such as food etiquette and family values; divine blessing for the cacique; and testimonials for chef lovers.
Regarding the mode of presentation, this text obtains a passing grade. Etimita handles the subject brilliantly and expands its concepts with authoritative sources to achieve a concrete conviction on the part of the readers. Use images and graphics on the inside pages to visually reinforce readers’ understanding, especially since one image communicates better than many words.
The book is also very logical and didactic, because the author is very elaborate in his discussion of the eight chapters. It should be noted that the language in this book also enhances your understanding given the simple choice of words. This is to be expected given that Etimita is an accountant/auditor who knows the importance of simplicity and accuracy for understanding. The author is also able to convey his passion for the culinary profession and emphasize the need to give it due recognition, especially in Nigeria, with the use of the possessive adjective “My” in the title “My Chef”.
Furthermore, the fact that the author chose to write about an area that is outside his professional boundaries underscores the concreteness of his self-development efforts and his ability to exploit environmental opportunities because he is an auditor in the hotel industry.
However, some areas seem (conceptually) repetitive. Perhaps Etimita deliberately uses this style to constantly emphasize or remind readers. Also, the layout of the inner pages needs improvement to avoid textual congestion.
Taken together, this book is a compendium of irresistible advice on the culinary profession and healthy living. Specifically, it is a challenge for the National Universities Commission (NUC) in Nigeria to draw the attention of Nigerian universities to the need to introduce and promote culinary courses to help develop the hospitality industry in Nigeria through the training of adequate skilled manpower. The book is revealing and interesting.