Each week we will examine one of the aforementioned virtues and see if Bushido may be a good path for the Order of the Chef to use as a guideline in inspiring industry professionals young and old...
Giri is a concept in Japanese culture that is understood as an obligatory service for those to whom one is indebted. For a very simple example, if someone takes you into their home in a time of need, you will now have giri to pay back to that person. This may be as simple as taking them for a nice meal or as severe as taking your own life to save theirs, it all depends upon the people and actions involved. The concept came about to protect the integrity of family units because when familial love was not motivation enough for someone to do the right thing, the social construct of giri brought a motivation based on personal honor and duty as seen by a public eye.
There is not enough giri in the culinary world. There are certain understood rules that can be often difficult for young cooks to learn: show up on time, bring your own knife, give a timely notice if you plan to quit, work in a tidy and timely manner... For chefs who have done their time in the industry, there is a sort of unspoken code that we have and the more "old school" the chef, the stronger this code seems to hold. All of these rules, however arbitrary they may seem to an industry novice, can be made obvious by applying Bushido and by having a sense of giri.
Perhaps more importantly, young chefs should be taught to respect and empower themselves in order to better serve their chosen "daimyo". Often it is too easy for a young cook to be swept up by the popular current of good times and revelry in a new place, trying to fit in and protect a fragile ego. However, a person on a path founded on Justice will have a much easier time in controlling his behavior and escaping the pitfalls of the restaurant scene. The primary effect of following a code founded on right behavior is that the student develops a sense of constant vigilance over his actions and sets up a 'guard rail' to keep from slipping into a negative pattern. Bushido can be a great stepping off point for a person who has demonstrated great Courage by initiating a positive change.