Culture, identity, and belonging in the “culinary underbelly”

Palmer, Catherine, Cooper, J. and Burns, Peter (2010) Culture, identity, and belonging in the “culinary underbelly” International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, 4 (4). pp. 311-326. ISSN 1750-6182

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Purpose – Drawing on social anthropology this paper aims to focus on the role of culture in identity formation through an examination of the results of research into the culture of the chef – culture manifest in what has been referred to as the “culinary underbelly”. Design/methodology/approach – In-depth interviews were conducted with head chefs of Michelin-starred restaurants and celebrity chefs with the aim of exploring the social and cultural processes underpinning the formation of chef identity. Findings – These illustrate what it feels like to belong on the basis of such signifying structures as language, community, and kinship. Being a chef is more than just a job, it is sacred work involving sacrifice and pain leaving a physical imprint on the individual in the form of burns, cuts and scalds. Such marks are the physical manifestation of chef culture. Research limitations/implications – The findings are not generalizable to all chefs. Further research should focus on issues of gender and ethnicity, and on chefs working in different types of establishment and at different levels/status to those interviewed here. Originality/value – The findings and the analysis provide valuable insights into chef identity. This analysis is important because the significance of concepts such as culture and identity for understanding specific job roles is still under explored within a hospitality context. Managers need to be able to understand and work with the cultural dynamics inherent in job roles because these impinge on key issues such as recruitment, retention and team building of all staff, not just chefs.

Item Type: Journal article
Additional Information: This article is © Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Culture; Family; Human resource management; Work identity
Subjects: N000 Business and Management > N600 Human Resource Management
DOI (a stable link to the resource): 10.1108/17506181011081497
Faculties: Faculty of Education and Sport > School of Service Management
Faculty of Education and Sport > School of Service Management > CENTOPS
Faculty of Education and Sport
Depositing User: Mrs Mercedita Hoare
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2011 16:42
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2015 08:43

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