History Bites. 11th Edition
In previous reminiscences on these pages I have touched upon the importance of associations having an archivist on-board as a part of their committee structure.
Retrospectives is a chapter in this Champchefs File and, if you visit it, you will find a new story that has a focus on the early days of the Canadian Federation of Chefs de Cuisine briefly telling how the Federation came into being.
The motivator and mover behind the grass roots movement that led to the commencement and foundation of the Canadian Chefs Association was not a chef but a salesman: Tom Bennett of Knorr Suisse. I would like to record observations in this regard made by Don Cutler who would become the first National Secretary of the Canadian Federation of Chefs de Cuisine.
"In the late 1950's and very early 1960's there was a great promoter of closer relations between professional chefs in Western Canada, who was not even a chef himself. I refer to ‘Old Tom Bennett' who was for many years the Knorr Suisse Representative for Western Canada. He lived in Winnipeg but spent most of his time on the road as the Knorr Suisse Rep. Tom was a great favorite with the chefs of Western Canada and was the forerunner and reason behind the great support that the chefs received over the years from Knorr Suisse.
Tom never sold a pound of Knorr Suisse product in his life. He simply dropped in on chefs to bring them up to date on the ‘Goings on' of their colleagues across the Country. When I was Chef at the Royal Alexandria Hospital, Edmonton, Tom called regularly. We never discussed his product because he just came to visit and to bring me greetings from friends like Einar Nielson at the Palliser, Calgary or Andre Pittet at the Hotel Saskatchewan or Xavier Hetzman in Vancouver. We would sit around and have coffee and a good visit, Tom would also leave with a hefty order for his product. He never high pressured anyone in his life.
Tom was a delightful person that you just had to like and he was always telling the chefs that they should form an association to improve their image and that of the industry. Finally the chefs listened to Old Tom and with his help in 1963 they gathered at the Hotel MacDonald Edmonton for their founding convention". May,1985 - Donald A. Cutler (RIP).
I believe it to be appropriate to share this insight firstly because Knorr Suisse is a Universal Brand known to all chefs worldwide; therefore no matter where your location you can connect with the Company.
More importantly this reminiscence brings a focus to the contributions that salesmen and corporate representatives of all corporations make to our profession. Certainly the everyday transactions of buying and selling are basic essentials to the foodservice industry.
However beyond the details of the day's trading these company representatives are frequently Associate Members of the local or national chefs associations. Their relationship with us bring additional dynamics to the Club des Chefs. The contributions that they make are comprehensive and the bonding between chefs and Associate Members help the local and National Associations prosper and grow. The linkage adds value and benefits all.