Falcon development chef Neil Roseweir is one of the best known and liked chefs in foodservice. Having graduated from catering college in Glasgow in the 1963, he cut his teeth in kitchens across the industry, from hotels, restaurants and industrial catering to airline catering and bulk food production. In 1992 he joined Falcon as development chef and has been with the company ever since. As he prepares to hang up his clogs and retire from the industry, he reflects on his time in the kitchen.
So how have things changed in the 50-plus years that you’ve been in the industry?
Probably the biggest change is in skills. Back in the 60s, kitchen staff would be expected to have a high standard of culinary skills. These days there are less staff with even a rudimentary understanding of cookery. It’s a huge issue. It’s been a driver for the development of push-button commercial cooking appliances – but however good the technology gets, top chefs still need ‘the knowledge.
What was it liked when you first joined Falcon – and how do those days compare to now?
When I first joined Falcon, development chefs working for equipment manufacturers were a rare breed. I was given a very small area at the back of the factory! Now we have a large, fully-functional development kitchen. It’s a huge benefit for us, we can thoroughly test new equipment and prototypes in the ‘real’ world. It’s also a huge benefit for customers, who can come and try the equipment before they buy, or work with us to develop their menus and skills once they have bought. A visit to our development kitchen is a great day out. The spoken word, videos, colour photos and brochures can only say so much. Nothing beats cooking and seeing and tasting the food.
How would you best sum up the role you leave behind?
In terms of product development, my job is to give ideas in to the R&D team, then to be a total pain in their necks until they get it right. Of course, the constant striving for perfection can be a stress: we’ll do literally hundreds of tests to achieve a target, but it’s very rewarding.
After 53 years, often seven days a week, it’s time to hang up my wooden spoon. I’ll be walking, travelling, oil painting, reading, maybe writing… it’s time to relax!
What are your views on cooking equipment trends?
There have been big advances in technology in recent years – induction, mirror griddles, combi ovens and filtration fryers to name but a few. While the primary function of cooking food has to be the number one priority, in terms of equipment NPD, health and safety are also critical. These days those two criteria are closely followed by ease of use, ease of cleaning, ease of maintenance and, of course, energy saving.
What’s the one thought you’ll be leaving with?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over these 50 years, as a chef and as part of the catering equipment supply chain, it’s that it is vital to be honest with the customer. This has absolutely been key to our success, and will continue to be in the future.
And, just lastly Neil, any regrets?
Falcon is a good place and my job has been great. I loved being involved in the development and launch of the F900 and I’m sorry not to be able to be part of its further evolution. After 53 years, often seven days a week, it’s time to hang up my wooden spoon. I’ll be walking, travelling, oil painting, reading, maybe writing… it’s time to relax! If my grandchildren let me!”