13/09/2005 - 22:00

Food talks in Lawless zone

13/09/2005 - 22:00


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One of Perth’s most seasoned chefs is taking a very palatable approach to corporate training for local businesses.

Food talks in Lawless zone

One of Perth’s most seasoned chefs is taking a very palatable approach to corporate training for local businesses.

Iain Lawless is best known as one half of Claremont’s former eatery, Lawless & Chapman, and for his successful stint at Room Nineteen.

He is now embarking down a different route, setting out to prove that a chef’s kitchen has something to teach the world of business. 

To this end Mr Lawless has formed a corporate training company, using the principles and practices of a professional kitchen to help businesses get the most out of their staff.

By doing away with contrived ‘trust exercises’ and abstract group activities, he believes learning from the real-life stresses and challenges of a kitchen will add value to corporate training across myriad industries.

Mr Lawless has devised a flexible training model whereby participants are encouraged to learn teamwork, communication and interpersonal skills through cooking.

The practical approach taken by the ‘Lawless Cooking’ training – imagine a board of directors all learning how to make olive focaccia – fosters a sense of camaraderie that additional training models can build on, if necessary.

“The kitchen environment can be a great training model,” Mr Lawless says. “It’s totally left brain kind of stuff.

“The same things happen in a kitchen as they do anywhere, it’s just that they happen a little quicker. We all make mistakes; it’s just how you recover from them.

“What I think a kitchen model can teach business is not to dwell on mistakes but to move on straight away.”

There is also an element of education as a part of the training process with the aim of demystifying cooking for business professionals who may not have much cooking experience.

Mr Lawless’s model of showing participants, be they first-year recruits or regional managers, that simple things can be created in a kitchen – often by “piecing all the different parts together” – operates as a food allegory for modern business practices.

“Cooking is easy, after all,” he says. “It’s the best job in the world.”

Mr Lawless has already used his culinary training skills for groups at Freehills, Ernst & Young and the ANZ Bank – all to positive feedback.

Freehills thought the model so innovative it sent its first-year graduates through the program to gauge their responses.

The flexibility of Mr Lawless’s training model allows means participants can use existing corporate amenities, including diminutive kitchenettes, or groups can meet at neutral locations or Mr Lawless’s own facilities.

Having worked in more than 160 different kitchens, Mr Lawless believes the chef is the kitchen’s CEO.

Concentrating on brand building at the moment, Mr Lawless’s corporate training initiative joins a catering service and structured cooking classes as ancillary parts to his vision of education through food.

The Lawless Cooking Brand builds on its proprietor’s extensive experience running educational initiatives in the hospitality industry. Mr Lawless spent eight years operating both demonstrative and hands-on cooking classes throughout Perth, Melbourne and Thailand.

Although heavily influenced by the Thai tradition of cuisine, Mr Lawless says he often focuses of the more dramatic and obscure sections of food.

Preparing to travel to Broome this month, he will cook for Kerry Stokes and family during a planned vacation, a role he says allows him to get the best out of the best ingredients possible.

“Being a good chef can often mean losing what some see as your control over your kitchen,” Mr Lawless says.

“When it boils down, the biggest sin is envy, in the kitchen as in life.

“Success can reflect back in your food, just as in your professional life.”


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