“I’m writing this from the kitchen, and right now I’m watching the hot line work; guys from Greece, Poland, Brazil and Italy working in synergy,” writes Taylor Sessegnon-Shakespeare, head pastry chef of Tavolino in London. She was brought up in the UK, but her maternal grandmother is African American and her father’s family are Jamaican. “To my right, an Antiguan man works back to back with an Italian woman. They’re laughing, they’re joking – everybody is one, there is a sense of unity.”
It’s a beautiful image – and one which, up until recently, I imagined to be fairly typical of Britain’s restaurant scene.
Sure, more rural restaurants were unlikely to be models of diversity, but metropolitan restaurant kitchens were bound to reflect the make-up of the city’s population – far more so than other industries I thought. Only when I came to speak to Sessegnon-Shakespeare for this feature did I realise quite how hopelessly naive I had been.
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