We’re all curious about people and their stories. I’m often asked, ‘What’s your background?’ and ‘Why do you do what you do?’ It got me thinking, how did I end up here and what forged my passion for good food and great service? And, why, 30 years on, do I still care so passionately about it?
Firstly, my grandmother and father forged my love of cooking at a very early age when I helped them in the kitchen, laughing and having great fun.
Then, when I was 18, studying languages and looking set on a path in that direction, I announced to my somewhat bewildered parents, ‘People always have to eat’.
I loved throwing a good party by then, making a table setting look welcoming, cooking Christmas dinner and, above all, making people happy; that made me happy and it still does. Truly.
I also had a fascination with hotels and restaurants. Not from huge experience at that age, I might add, but the ‘make-believe glamour and glitz and all things shiny’ they offered. A world away from the norm that people could step into and have every need catered for. I wanted a part of that. So, my new course was set.
Let’s examine how this relates to what we do in schools today. We’re all in a position of responsibility to educate and nourish a child, not only each day in school but for life.
Establishing a positive relationship with food from an early age is key to creating an understanding of the benefits of nutritional and balanced eating and a lifelong love of preparing and serving food with passion. Let’s link this to careers in hospitality.
Let’s harness a child’s energy and appetite for learning and create a desire to be a part of hospitality
Why not enflame excitement and enthusiasm in the young that inspires a lifetime love of all things great?
One school I recently visited encourages its pupils to apply to be waiters at lunchtime. Wearing a bowtie and apron, they help serve water, and peel and cut fruit for their peers. They visibly love doing it, and learn respect and empathy with each other.
Let’s harness a child’s energy and appetite for learning and create a desire to be a part of hospitality. It’s a viable, but often overlooked, career with boundless opportunities.
In a world ever-changing with technology, new concepts and the emerging AI and robotic alternatives, we must talk about the virtues of a hospitality career.
As well as chefs and front of house, we embrace accountancy, law, human resources, marketing, creative design and executive business management. We build teams and entrepreneurial businesses on these foundations and most of us have risen through the ranks. My first job was as a chef manager and I loved every minute of it.
Was it easy? No. Long hours? Yes, sometimes. But I was able to use my basic skills of finance, people management and marketing to start ‘earning my stripes’. I, like many others, have worked hard and found opportunities to flourish.
Our influential positions allow us to nurture those less experienced and coming through the ranks. Should we not be doing this in our schools and working together to create career paths for the next generation? I’m currently working with the top award-winning hospitality-industry rising stars under the age of 30, doing just that.
We can, and should, facilitate this learning and encouragement from an early age.
Our vision: hold your head up and be proud to be part of the food industry, whatever your background. There’s a world of opportunity you’ve never even thought about.
And, when all is said and done, people always have to eat!