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  • Writer's pictureBolaji Akinola-Alli

Chef de l'Etat

It's election year in a number of democratic countries including France, Mexico and Kenya. For others like Nigeria, it may as well be election year with the ramp up in political activity in the country. This means it is time for a change in government and a new head of state (chef de l'etat).

The word 'chef' means completely different things in English and French:




chief, head, boss, leader

In English, a chef is responsible for combining multiple ingredients together to make a meal that their customers would enjoy.

However, there are some correlations between the tasks of both types of chefs. For example, after the French election a couple of weeks ago, it seems like the French people liked the catalogue of policies that was on Emmanuel Macron's Menu. I mean he's had the opportunity to showcase a taster from his first term in office. However, like any leader of a country, it is difficult to figure out and address all the needs of the citizens of a country.

So here's a few things every chef needs to consider:

Cooking Ingredients

Perhaps the most important thing a chef needs are the ingredients needed to cook the food. In government these are the combination of different policies, laws and regulation that are aimed at a specific outcome. For example, Germany has an ambitious energy plan called Energiewende which aims to source half of all electricity supply from renewable energy sources by 2030, phase out nuclear power by 2022 and coal use by 2038. [1]

These sound amazing right? But some might argue that although they are the right cooking ingredients, the meal doesn't particularly taste great with the war in Ukraine and the over-reliance of energy imports from Russia...


Most chefs will stress how important food presentation is, sometimes as important as it tastes. From the fancy names of the food (I sometimes struggle to pronounce) to the fire displays, we know how important presentation is to the customers too.

In government, this is the sales pitch or propaganda.

An example of a sales pitch I've seen recently is the Ten Point Plan for Green Industrial Revolution in the UK [2]. This plan outlines the key areas and technologies that the UK government plans to invest in to cut down greenhouse gas emissions while providing thousands of new jobs by 2030.

It's catchy right? That's the point.


Although a policy or regulation might be made for the greater good of society, it might be harmful to a minority. This is something that leaders need to take into account. What might be the unintended negative effects or allergies of your actions as a leader?

For example, I remember visiting a coal power plant and a lot of the workers had this weary look whilst taking us on a tour. Some of them knew it was only a matter of months before they lost their jobs. Job losses are probably not the intention of the government, but they are the reality of some people.


'On the house' might be one of the best things to hear at a restaurant or food stall. It's nice when you're given the privilege of tasting something before deciding to get it or not. Political leaders give tasters of what they can do for their societies through debates, campaign promises and track record from their first term in office.

Speaking of first terms, the man in Paris got pelted with tomatoes on his first trip after being re-elected. Maybe he missed a key ingredient in his (taster) first term in office [3]. Next time include tomatoes Chef Macron.


Behind the scenes, while we wait for our foods to be delivered, there is a team of cooks, servers, bartenders and cleaners that all work in order to present a meal that pleases us. The Chef is also tasked with hiring the right team. In government this means ministers, advisors and administrators to bring her promises to life.

You might be wondering why I have a picture of Remy from Ratatouille above. It's because my next example is the kitchen of Downing Street and Westminister Abbey in London. I've lost track of the amount of scandals happening there from lockdown parties, to tax evasion and even ponography. Yes, you read it right. I cannot imagine how the kitchen operates so I got a chaotic picture of the rat in ratatouille.

Remy's a great chef though.


I don't know about you but I got a bit hungry writing this, but I hope when next you go out to vote and participate in your general and local elections, you have a good look at the menu, ask questions about allergies and not get carried away by the presentation.

Until next time!


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