There is a romance that surrounds our industry, and it slips and changes as quickly as the trends that drive it. Be it the speak-easy bartender, the crazed fanaticism of the sushi chef, the battle-scarred Bourdain, the misty-eyed Shewry or the desperation of the MasterChefs — we are driven by passion, romance, love, hate, cocaine-like highs and crippling, and at times, fatal lows.

So where are we at now? Sydney, 2018 — where the fuck we at? Between the squeeze of Uber Eats and crippling rents, where can we blossom? Where can we meet and mix and create and breathe? Is there room for romance in Sydney 2018? Where are our chefs and restaurateurs of the future? Where is our next generation of dreamers and cynics and rockers and fanatics? Are they among us? Or are they being forced to flee, suffocated of the excitement the young need?

Are we simply sifting through the rubble of our post-Mirvac/Deliveroo/poker machine world, trying to work out how the fuck it went so wrong? The answer is with us. With those standing right here and now. For those brave enough to stand for creativity not corporate growth rates.

For those who want to leave our industry better than we found it; the one we have been left with needs some fucking work. Our role as mentors and leaders does not end with a lesson in fish butchery; it begins there and ends with a responsibility for the future of food and the culture that surrounds it.

We are the future historians of our very own romance, destined to tell our children the story of what we did with our time in charge. It rests heavy, and it is beginning to rest now.

What do we wish to leave behind? I want my child to know our work doesn’t define our worth and that the worth of their work doesn’t define the worth of their lives.

I want them to understand our work is never easy, and that it never was. That pushing the Sisyphean rock is a daily task, and that its touch never grows warmer or more inviting. I want them to know that the work draws blood and tears, but that these bring forth the romance that will excite and feed those that will come after them.

I want them to know the joy of a skill passed on, of the thrill of a section mastered and of the rush felt from the approval of your peers.

I want them to see that I tried to add to the romance. I want them to want to do the same. The weight of this future is upon us now, here in Sydney 2018.

I hope we can add something that makes them proud.

This article originally appeared in Hospitality‘s May issue. Subscribe now.

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