Food Made Good

What are you waiting for? It’s time to reassess restaurants

Whenever we ask the public about the things that matter most to them when eating out, treating people fairly always poll high. Sensing that the tip you leave may not reach its intended recipient or that your waiter may not be getting their just desserts, can leave a bad taste in the mouth and serves as a reminder that maybe working in a restaurant isn’t for you.

One very highly regarded and experienced chef spoke bluntly this month about the fragile position restaurants find themselves in following the vote to leave the EU. Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Harden’s London Restaurant Awards Bruce Poole, of Chez Bruce, said: “Without our European friends we’re f***ed. We really need these guys.”

For years now the industry has bemoaned its failure to promote itself as a desirable career and the consequent struggle to recruit the right people. We’d have to agree with Bruce and say it really does look like the situations has reached its nadir now. A survey published recently by Best Western Great Britain, revealed that almost half of parents would discourage their children from a career in hospitality, citing long hours and poor pay as the main reasons. In fact hospitality polled in the bottom ten careers according to the 1,000 parents quizzed, languishing at the rear end of the league table along with cleaning, journalism and farming, among others.

With 90,000 vacant posts in the sector, there is much the industry needs to do to change its image to one of an attractive, opportunity-laden career choice.

Have you ever considered a Front of House career for yourself or indeed one of your children? We have two things to draw to your attention that might just encourage you to look a little closer.

Firstly, Opus Restaurants in Birmingham, concerned about the skills gaps and general undervaluing of the profession, has teamed up with University College Birmingham (UCB) to tailor-make a programme to develop hospitality students’ work skills. It’ll be offering undergraduates the opportunity to work across all three of its venues – Opus at Cornwall Street, Cafe Opus at Ikon and Bar Opus at One Snowhill – as well as in all areas of its business, including front of house, kitchen and corporate bookings.

For the second opportunity, look no further than National Waiters Day on 20 October. It’s the brainchild of Fred Sirieix, the star maître d’ of Channel 4’s First Dates and General Manager at Galvin at Windows. It’s part of the Front of House Festival, from 17th to 21st October, a weeklong celebration of all front of house roles throughout the industry, including baristas, drinks and beverages servers, and guest service professionals. Just head to www.nationalwaitersday.com to find out more.

Already, a number of progressive businesses are helping the sector to turn that corner – the likes of Food Made Good restaurants The Gallivant and The Zetter introducing profit share schemes for staff. Hawksmoor and Oakman Inns & Restaurants are just two SRA members that feature regularly in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list, offering an array of benefits and opportunities that would turn the head of any prospective job hunter.

Now could be the time to give a career in hospitality another look.