Falcon development chef retires after 53 years in the foodservice industry
Neil Roseweir is one of the best known and liked chefs in foodservice. Having graduated from catering college in Glasgow in the 1963, Neil cut his teeth in kitchens across the industry, from hotels, restaurants and industrial catering to airline catering and bulk food production. In 1992 he joined Falcon as development chef and has been with the company ever since. In 2015 the Master Chefs of Great Britain awarded him a Peter Jukes Memorial Fellowship – a rare honour that underlines the esteem the industry has for Neil, since Fellowships are normally only given to restaurant chefs.
So how have things changed in the 50 plus years that Neil has been in the industry?
“Probably the biggest change is in skills,” he says. “Back in the 60s, kitchen staff would be expected to have a high standard of culinary skills. These days there are less staff with even a rudimentary understanding of cookery. It’s a huge issue. It’s been a driver for the development of push-button commercial cooking appliances – but however good the technology gets, top chefs still need ‘the knowledge.’
“When I first joined Falcon, development chefs working for equipment manufacturers were a rare breed. I was given a very small area at the back of the factory! Now we have a large, fully-functional development kitchen. It’s a huge benefit for us, we can thoroughly test new equipment and prototypes in the ‘real’ world. It’s also a huge benefit for customers, who can come and try the equipment before they buy, or work with us to develop their menus and skills once they have bought.
“A visit to our development kitchen is a great day out. The spoken word, videos, colour photos and brochures can only say so much. Nothing beats cooking and seeing and tasting the food. We like to make sure that everyone coming to our kitchen leaves with a smile on their face, having gained knowledge.
“In terms of product development, my job is to give ideas in to the R&D team, then to be a total pain in their necks until they get it right. Of course, the constant striving for perfection can be a stress: we’ll do literally hundreds of tests to achieve a target, but it’s very rewarding.”
What are Neil’s thoughts on cooking equipment trends? “There have been big advances in technology in recent years – induction, mirror griddles, combi ovens and filtration fryers to name but a few. While the primary function of cooking food has to be the number one priority, in terms of equipment NPD, health and safety are also critical. These days those two criteria are closely followed by ease of use, ease of cleaning, ease of maintenance and, of course, energy saving.
“Increasingly customers rely on really good after sales service, too, with things like ongoing training being an essential. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over these 50 years, as a chef and as part of the catering equipment supply chain, it’s that it is vital to be honest with the customer. This has absolutely been key to our success, and will continue to be in the future.”
Shaune Hall is Falcon’s new development chef. He’s been working alongside Neil over the past few weeks. He says: “Neil is an inspirational figure, kind, patient and an excellent mentor and coach. It’s been hugely helpful to be able to tap into his experience. He’s achieved so much over the years – the systems he has put in place in terms of the kitchen procedures and the way we test and report on new products are exemplary.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time with Neil, it’s been an honour to work with him.”
And Neil’s opinion of Shaune? “A top man. First off, he’s a highly experienced and well-travelled chef, with excellent culinary skills, all of which are essential for this position. He totally understands that the equipment we design and manufacture must be of the highest order. It’s his job to make sure it is! He’s got a very friendly disposition that will be great when it comes to dealing with customers – and should help him when he’s being a pain to our R&D team.”
Any regrets? “Falcon is a good place and my job has been great,” says Neil. “I loved being involved in the development and launch of the F900 and I’m sorry not to be able to be part of its further evolution.
“After 53 years, often seven days a week, it’s time to hang up my wooden spoon. I’ll be walking, travelling, oil painting, reading, maybe writing… it’s time to relax! If my grandchildren let me…”
Falcon is the market-leading UK manufacturer of professional cooking equipment and is based in Stirling. With a company history going back nearly 200 years, Falcon now supplies operators throughout the catering industry, exporting around the globe. Its comprehensive product portfolio is backed by award-winning customer support. Visit www.falconfoodservice.com for more information.