Falling in Love with Hospitality - Culinary Summit

A lot has changed since the start of 2020, for it only seems like yesterday we were all going about our normal lives. However, the current crisis has certainly taken its toll on a vast number of industries across the globe, with the Hospitality and Catering sector not being an exception. Possibly one of the hardest-hit industries, the UK saw all restaurants, pubs and hotels close, which has not only caused people to lose their jobs but also force the sector to enter an 'existential crisis'. To take our minds away from the negatives, we want to celebrate the industry throughout these challenging times, looking back at how it was thriving just a few weeks ago. We share one of our recruitment consultants incredible experience at the Hospitality & Culinary Summit hosted at Glasgow City College and how she fell in love with hospitality, reflecting on how much of an impact this sector can make on peoples lives and the hope we have for the future of hospitality.

How I fell in love with the Hospitality industry

"Like most people, I “fell” into the hospitality world. I had worked in a few odd jobs here and there, but by the time my 16th birthday rolled around, I realised that I wanted a real job! So there I was, bright-faced & eager on my first day walking into McDonald's, little did I know I had discovered an industry that I would fall in love with. Moving through the ranks & jumping between different hospitality environments I realised I found the future, my future. In July 2018 I moved from the service side to the recruitment side & started here at Stafffinders. Throughout my career recruiting for hospitality professionals I have been lucky to meet some incredible people – both clients & candidates – who love their job, love their industry and love this world."

Attending the Hospitality & Culinary Summit

"On March 10th 2020 I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Hospitality & Culinary Summit hosted at City of Glasgow College. It was a celebration of success, passion & hope for an industry that often has a certain stigma around it. During the event, I met a young boy of 16 and got to chatting; his dream, his only dream in life was to be a chef. To him, it was baffling how anyone would want to work in any other profession! When I asked who his dream chef to work for would be, he said the great “Gordon Ramsey”. His reasons? because as a chef "he can do it all". He can do the fine dining and then jump straight to the good hearty family meals. This young boy was not the only one who showed passion and flair in their approach to the day, the event was filled with budding chef's, ambitious managers and everything in between. The staff at the City of Glasgow College were fantastic, after speaking to a few I could see their care was real, they are the perfect group of people to shape the hospitality leaders of the future.

Throughout the morning a number of speakers joined us and discussed their journeys through the industry. The whole event was led by Gary McLean, winner of 2016 MasterChef: The Professionals. Gary himself is “Scotland’s National Chef” and has a strong reputation within the hospitality sector and the fact he is taking time to teach and offer invaluable knowledge to college students is fantastic. The first speakers of the day were another of Scotland’s treasures; Tom & Michaela Kitchin. Much like myself and many others in the industry, Tom & Michaela shared a similar story about how they also fell into the industry. Tom had left school at 16 and after washing dishes and attending college, he developed his love for food and is forever thankful for that job he secured at such a young age. Together, they both run 5 sites in Edinburgh & East Lothian and when we say run, we mean it. Tom always has to be on service, Michaela has to help make all the decisions - they even shot away early from the summit so Tom could make lunch service! Observing and listening to them discuss their journeys & their enthusiasm for their restaurants left me with a big smile on my face. This message is so important to hear, that people love food, they love providing a great service and they love customers. Anyone who gets the opportunity to work for this amazing couple – seize it!

Kenny Blair, Managing Director of Buzzworks Holdings was up next. He discussed his journey, and also how the company has grown over the past 30 years. And what a company it is to work for. Their ethos is driven by their staff, and everything they do supports them. Hospitality has a stigma, even our own government called certain staff “low skilled" however, anyone who has worked in the industry knows this is not the case. Buzzworks especially, they train their staff, support them, guide them and support progression in all of their sites. For the next generation of hospitality workers, this is so important and this is how more people will develop and thrive within this industry. The students I met on Tuesday, who have chosen to pursue this industry need to know it is not all like the horror stories people tell about long days, no social life and rubbish pay.

Matt Healey was the runner up to Gary McLean on MasterChef. For those who don't know, before applying to the show, Matt fell out of love with cooking and the industry, he was in the kitchen 18 hours a day with no stopping, 6/7 days a week! It was no surprise that this career was no longer his passion and just a bad habit. This experience forced him to find a more suited position, outwith the kitchen. It wasn’t until he joined the show that he remembered what it could be, and Masterchef helped him fall back in love with what he knew the industry to be. Matt now owns 2 restaurants in his home town and continues to celebrate his love for hospitality through his incredible food. What I took from his discussion was that you can never lose your passion, you just have to direct it correctly. We all know no one should be working 80/90 hour weeks, but unfortunately, it can happen, and it is important to remember that. As a recruiter, I feel this is important to remember when both helping clients and candidates. We need to find roles in companies like Buzzworks who look after their staff, look for bosses like Tom & Michaela who support and work alongside the staff. Those who understand the industry is more than just working crazy hours for little pennies.

I could write about this event for hours, it was full of hope for the future. A new batch of students all looking to find their place in an ever-changing world. I say full of hope as we are all aware of recent struggles this industry faces, without turning this political it is important to note. My request to all those in hospitality, both directly or not, is as Connor O Leary said on Tuesday “support the local businesses, the small ones they might not survive if they take a 15/20% decrease in profits” (not an exact quote but you get the general gist!) Thank you to City of Glasgow College, Gary McLean and all the organisers for what I can only describe as a fantastic event and I am ever grateful to be a part of it."