The recent Foodstuffs trade expo, while not directed at foodservice but at the group’s supermarket operators, had an upside for our people. The 5.7 tonnes of perishable and non-perishable food about to be dumped after the show was collected by Kiwi Harvest and reworked into around 700 healthy meals by culinary youngsters from the New Zealand Management Academies (NZMA) and distributed around Auckland with the rest donated to charities. Great move by both organisations.

A group of bikers were trundling along a Gisborne road and came across a policeman trying to stop a girl from jumping off a bridge. Big hairy George jumped off his Harley and raced over asking what she was doing. She said she was going to commit suicide. George saw his opportunity to become a legend and called out: “Before you jump honey, give me your last best kiss..” She leaned back and gave him a long lingering kiss. “Wow,” said George, “that’s a real talent you’re wasting there Sugar Shorts. So why are you committing suicide?” The answer: “My parents don’t like me dressing up as a girl.”

The giant Compass Group in Europe has made a pledge to have women account for 50 percent of its chef workforce inside the next couple of years after it was revealed that female chefs were becoming increasingly rare in the UK with now only one in five chefs being women. This may well be a theme that our Restaurant Association could take to heart as part of its role in developing better industry management. It does highlight some of the reasons that the industry is failing to appeal to women, including inflexible and long working hours and it has put split shifts firmly on the agenda.

Sometimes I wake up Grumpy – and other times I just let her sleep.

With the restaurant customer turning more and more to smartphones and tablets to make bookings, a number of establishments overseas have begun rewarding regular customers with mobile loyalty programmes. They say that as well as wowing their customers, there is valuable data to be gained on purchase frequency, spend and preferences and the messages can be tailored to suit. Certainly the smart operators in our industry are learning these modern marketing techniques and see such technology as a key point in going forward. The old days of an advert in the local newspaper has almost had its day.

Good laugh the other day when a newspaper reader complained that his group was struggling with knives to handle a steak and rightly asked for steak knives. She returned empty handed and explained she couldn’t provide them because it “was a health and safety thing.”

Speaking of health and safety, it didn’t do the restaurant industry much good in the UK the other day when a chef in an Indian restaurant in a Swindon pub was found guilty of wiping his bottom with his hand before preparing food because of cultural reasons. Inspectors found a water bottle in the kitchen covered in brown fingerprints filled from the kitchen taps that he used after visiting the toilet. The pub was found guilty of breaching food and hygiene regulations.

The announcement in the UK that scientists had made a breakthrough in the painful complaints suffered by chefs the world over known colloquially as “chef’s arse”, was greeted with relief. Properly called culus archlmagi cruciabile, it is a severe chafing of the buttocks caught when working long hours in a hot and sweaty environment. The report said chefs had mainly relied on cornflour, Vaseline, butter or even shaving but the new spray developed by the Swiss had helped relieve the symptoms. A number of chefs commented on it before the date of report was realised – April 1.

Which reminded me about the agony of aging. When Daylight Savings ended, I popped in to see an aging friend whom I found covering his penis with black shoe polish. I said to him, “You better get your hearing checked. You’re supposed to turn you clock back…”