For the industry, by the industry, the PX+ Festival will be a weekend-long gathering of the people who dedicate their lives to the culinary experiences of others. It will give us an opportunity to pause, reflect and celebrate, and create the spark to ignite real change in the industry – not only in the way we work, but also in how we support and look out for each other.
Idealistic? Yes. Impossible? No.
PX+ Festival host Oscar Harding of Duchess Farms in Hertfordshire, England, where the event is being hosted, is already working hard to change attitudes toward farmers and lead a new generation in his branch of the industry, emphasizing collaboration rather than competition. We, the founders of PX+, would love to see this innovative way of thinking applied across the industry: Michelin-starred, casual dining, branded chains, independents, street food vendors, suppliers, producers and farmers… the whole delicious melting pot of creative, talented, passionate people.
PX+ already has over 80 confirmed headline acts, including 30 of the UK’s top chefs, farmers, butchers, suppliers, producers and winemakers. Uniquely, we are bringing together people from different cultural backgrounds and specializations, people who are already starting to change how they operate, people who want to share their ideas and experiences with others.
We believe hospitality is about everyone in the industry, not just the celebrated few. So we ask ourselves, do we really need to continue to perpetuate the obsession for the best of everything? The best chef in the world, the best restaurant in the world? We are not athletes in a competitive race to the finish line, fighting to be the one on the podium taking the gold. There is room for every cuisine, every cocktail and every coffee bean to be celebrated.
Every one of us is working flat out, trying to sustain successful businesses, but we rarely have the chance to come together, take stock and offer support to each other. The very nature of our industry is to be hospitable to our guests, and this should extend to the way we treat our teams, our fellow restaurateurs and our suppliers.
The founders of PX+ want to grow a community that supports rather than competes with each other. It’s time to treat each other as well as we treat our customers.
While we keep others sustained with food and drink, our teams consistently face the risk of crashing and burning. Together we need to improve our own circumstances and attitudes, we need to change the way we do things. It’s time to raise the bar.
We have a responsibility to recognize what is broken in our industry, fix the bits we need to, and set a new course. A chance to talk honestly about how hospitable the hospitality business really is, is long overdue. We’re getting a hell of a lot of bad press – long working hours, service charge, abuse in restaurants, unhealthy lifestyles, and substance and alcohol dependency all regularly feature in news reports. Clearly we are in the middle of a rocky time.
This gives us an opportunity though, a chance to look at where we are and how we move forward. Landscapes are changing all around us: food, society, economics, climates – if we don’t stop and discuss what direction our industry should take, and how, and why, we risk change happening to us, rather than being guided by us.
Katie Bone is the founder and director of the PX+ Hospitality Festival