We have said it hundreds of time before: Tings is about making a difference.
We can’t change the world – but the least we can do is helping the fantastic young boys and girls that surrounds us to get one step – or more – closer to their dreams…
We’re are not specialists, we don’t have years of experience in charity work in developing countries, or billions of dollars to use.
We only have more than 25 years experience – each – in working with people: On all levels, from all cultures, from own companies and from some of the biggest companies in the world…
And then we’re realistic about our own capabilities, skills and limitations. We only get involved in things, we’re passionate about, and things we feel we know about.
Finally – we get involved personally.
WHAT WE DO IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE
We just get engaged with boys and girls we believe has a pontiential – find their talents and focus an that. But only if the kids are determined and work hard.
By talent we don’t mean academic papers. Schools are good and we encourage everybody we meet to get an education. But it’s far from all that are fit for schools. Some of our staff are illiterates. Still they have a lot of talent and as many options as others. We just have to find their them – and support them with trust, encouragement and a little money…
The 6 years we have been working with that was been tough – especially in a country like Nepal. But seeing how people around us grow and blossom keeps us going.
Most other places complain when the staff leaves.
We don’t – as long as people leave for a better job with more challanges.
Like Jit – our chef, friend, son and fellow human being – who have worked with us since we took over our house in Lazimpat. He and his lovely wife Saru stayed in what is now our storage room when we moved in.
We didn’t know then that Jit was going to become our chef. Actuelly we didn’t know him at all. We couldn’t even communicate properly.
In the beginning he was helping us with all the practical things regarding the house. Water, electricity, communicating with the neighbours, local shops and all the other new challenges we were drowning in.
WTF – you like cooking?
Slowely we got closer. When we began working on the menu for the future Tings Tea Lounge Jit helped us out.
The first morning when he and Thomas started chopping vegetables and prepared the dough for the first breads it became obvious that Jit not only loved it, he also had some kind of experience.
It turned out, that Jit had worked as a waiter in the local Natraj Restaurant. Whenever the kitchen was busy, he had helped out and learned how to chop and cut and doing it fast.
But it was only a year later we found out that Jit wanted to work with food.
Career programs is an important HR tool from our business past.
Since the concept of career doesn’t make sense in Nepal, we introduced dream talks… It was during these first talks we found out that Jit wanted to be a ‘real’ chef – and one day – a chef in his own restaurant.
The obvious thing would be to send him to a cooking school. But Jit is not a school person.
Instead we ‘kicked’ him through all our items on our international menu, taught him how to smell when an olive oil is old, how pasta al dente feels to chew, why rillettes and confits are perfect for a country like Nepal, never to compromise on quality, poach an egg, how to reduce costs, make a mayonnaise and to clean the kitchen again and again and again and again…
After one year Jit not only managed to make all the recipes – he had also passed them on to his colleagues in the kitchen. He was then Tings’ head Chef with the responsibility of keeping our standard while we were away. We we had started travelling again so he was on his own.
None of us are professionals. We love to cook – but that’s far from good enough if you want to educate a young man to become a chef. Especially when he wants to work with Tings Food – as Jit has refined his dream to.
You need to know about mis en place and organizing the kitchen, know about umami, kitchen economy, recipe tricks and a lot of other professional issues we have no clue about.
Jit visits Denmark – with a little help from our friends.
When it comes to kitchen routines there is no help to get in Nepal.
Luckily we have a lot of Chef friends in Denmark who wanted to help. One of them – Claus from Karmaman – agreed to take Jit in for the 3 months. Other friends supported with money for his flight tickets.
So on top of what we have been able to teach him Jit was a lot of steps closer to his dream, when he returned from Denmark with professional skills, inspiration and the self esteem you only get from being on your own.
Tings soon benefitted from these experiences – we started up a small catering business that grew from small parties at Tings over bigger wedding & birthday parties to huge +300 receptions at Embassies with continental dishes that not even the best international kitchens in Kathmandu serve.
After 3 years we started talking with Jit about his future
We reminded him about his dream of running his own restaurant. But these talks that never really took off.
After a couple of months we found out why.
His family wanted Jit to go abroad. A huge disappointment to us. A disappointment that grew bigger when we heard that he planned to go to US which to him sounded like a dream, but for all of us who have followed this subject closely know meant a life as a slave.
Thomas couldn’t control his frustration and distributed stories and videos about the miserable life young Nepalese boys and girls live to all his family and friends. These US talks stopped – but the talks about getting him out didn’t.
A few months later we got a message from Jit: This time it was a job at KFC in Dubai… FUCKING JUNK FOOD!
Then we gave up – we have wasted too much time and money to go on. A job at KFC – after everything that we have taught him was too much.
Why he never went to Dubai we don’t know. We hope it was because our disappointment made him realise that something was wrong. That not only wouldn’t he be able to safe enough money to get funds for his dream – KFC wouldn’t teach him anything which was even worse.
Two months ago we received a very strange FB message.
We were in Lisbon when this message clicked in…
We had absolutely no idea about what it meant. We had to Google it to find out that CDP was short for chef de partie – a kind of section Chef/sous chef in a big kitchen.
When we asked him where Jit had seen this it turned out that he had found an advertisement for a vacant position in an Italian Restaurant in Abu Dhabi.
Applicants with a diploma from Chef colleges and experience from a 5 star hotel could apply for the job as a CDP.
Jit have neither fine exams nor experience from superstar hotels
He ‘just’ makes food. And in our oppinion better food than the food we have tasted in all the so called 5 star kitchens in Kathmandu.
So instead of giving up we wrote a letter of recommendation focusing on all Jit’s skills and experiences that we know are relevant for an Italian kitchen: from making the pasta al dente to knowing the smell of a good olive oil.
Then we enclosed a list of all the Italian and Mediterranean dishes he have learned at Tings.
On top of that he got a letter of recommendations from the Chef in Denmark and quotes from the diplomats that have praised his food. Impressing titles always helps 🙂
LAST Monday Jit started at Café de Roma in Abu Dhabi
We cried when Jit told us that he got the job. He was chosen from more than 100 (ONE HUNDRED) applicants – all with diplomas and experience from multi start star hotels or restaurants.
We cried because this job may well be the final step to his dream. With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work he will gain the experience that he needs to start on his own place when he returns. An Italian Restaurant is the perfect experience to add to his curriculum…
We cried because Jit’s job proves that our constant focus on talent is right. That our talks about dreams aren’t hot air. And more important – that it is possible for young boys and girls to make it without the right cast, lots of relations, etc. and that money isn’t always enough.
We also cried because the pressure on young Nepalese boys and girls is so damaging to their lives – and to Nepal – and that made us sad. If we haven’t shouted out loud – Jit may have been a slave in an illegal business in the US or looking stupid in a lousy KFC junk food outlet in Dubai.
Most of all we cried because we could feel Jit’s happiness… and a bit because he is leaving us.
We wish him all the best and look forward to visiting him in Abu Dhabi.
Love and hugs…
Annette and Thomas
CODA: Why do we mention this now?
We mention this because we feel that the world needs to get a few success stories from this chaotic country that is now entering the 3rd month without petrol and without no positive signs of a solution in the near future. Forget about the politicians, NGOs, diplomats and all the other players who have worked for decades on improving the situation – without any results at all. The best they can do now is to admit that their efforts have failed. That it’s time for a new deal.
We also mention this because we want to show the international charity industry that it is possible to change thing. But NOT the way that they have been working for years… that experience and knowledge is more important than money – BUT only if it’s shared with love, encouragement and hands on involvement.
And NO, Jit is not the only proof we have. Our list of success gets longer and longer – the empty space Jit leaves behind is being filled up faster than fast by Sanjeet, Sagar, Rajiv, Dinesh and all the others guys who will find their ways to Tings Kitchen. Now they can see that dreams can come through.
And YES – we have disappointments too… but we also had that in Europe. So lets forget about them.
Thanks to all our friends around the world – with out your help and support this wouldn’t be possible.
You know who you are:-)