For 2021, it's only worth making an effort about the things you really care about, says Neil Rankin.
What a year! And not the ending I was expecting. If Christmas felt like anything, it felt a little like defeat (for me at least). If anything highlighted our need for hospitality, it was how hopelessly lost we all looked without it.
On the bright side, I guess a few more hospitality workers got the period off, but it's a shame they couldn't visit the ones they loved. The hardest thing about last year was having to deal with constant change, not only in business, but personally, too.
I think I fared well because I'm a creature of change. When I was 28 I'd never set foot in a kitchen, never mind run one. There was a time I would come to London in my twenties and frequent the Angus Steakhouse and not consider Seppuku by dessert.
The advantage of constant change is what you learn about yourself. You learn to spot your flaws and your strengths and you learn to recognise when a change isn't going your way versus whether you just have to work harder at it. I don't think there is anyone reading this now who hasn't learned something new about themselves this year and, regardless of whether you fared well or badly, it will benefit us all in the long run.
I've never been one for resolutions, but it's hard to get away from the feeling that I need to solidify a few lessons, and the biggest I've learned last year, and seen others learning, is my relationship with entitlement.
When I was younger I played golf with my brother, who played off a two handicap at a time when I was just learning and being frustrated at my skill level relative to his. I remember making all the excuses, about my size, my golf clubs, the balls, the course, the wind… basically everything except the truth, which was that he was good because he worked hard and wanted to be good, and I was average because I didn't work hard and I didn't really want to.
I think it has been easy for those who lost something they maybe didn't deserve last year to get muddled up with those who we all know did. Let's face it, not every restaurant or bar that closed down was a loss to us.
Let's face it, not every restaurant or bar that closed down was a loss to us
Maybe its Donald Trump, the whole pro-Brexit lie that exposed our country's arrogance about our over-stated place on the world stage, the ‘all lives matter' goons or the Maga morons, the anti-maskers, the anti-vaxxers, the ‘let's just kill old people' brigade or those who filled their trolley with bog roll. I don't know what prompted me, but I've definitely looked deep at where I've missed the point.
I have been told by those in TV that the reason I won't get an interview with most channels is because they're all looking for diversity, and while that is maybe true in some sense, it's not the whole picture. It's actually because I've never really wanted it or have been that great at it. I'm told I can't write a vegetarian cookbook, which actually makes sense as I've done very little to deserve it and I've spent the past 14 years championing meat.
My loss in social media followers over the past two years is not solely to do with moving to vegan cooking like I told everyone, it's because I stopped trying to make it any good. When I wanted to be a good chef I worked my ass off and did it; when I wanted a great restaurant, I did it. In fact, the things I've been passionate abut in life I've done pretty well at, despite all the obstacles. When you get told you can't do something, when you want to be good at doing something, or when something runs away from you, that's the moment when you know if it's for you. Those are the good ones and those are the only ones I'm going to care about from now on. That's my resolution.
Good luck to everyone for your New Year and I hope it all works out for you. If anyone fancies a game of golf, I'll give you my brother's number and I'll meet you in the pub after.
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