I find it amazing that I have now been in this industry over 40 years. I’m sure that gives me the right to write about it but it also does give me a bit of a fright. Firstly, to think that’s how long it is, surely not, “far too young” I hear you shout . Hopefully, and secondly, as you too will, one day, be saying the same as me, about your tenure of this gift of a career in hospitality….and not believing it, well let’s hope so!

It’s a great industry to be part of

Recently there has been lots of press about how hospitality is a low paid profession – what they fail to mention is that it is a totally brilliant industry for achieving success for a great many that choose it as their profession. Success can be on your merits, skills and hard work, rather than any paper qualifications. There are many, many stories of people who have risen through the ranks from Kitchen Porter to Head Chef, General Assistant to Catering Manager.

Recently someone contacted me who was a relief chef for me in West Acton – they are now a divisional director. You just never know who will end up where in this business. Plus, my favourite part is, it’s so much fun to be part of. You get to do amazing things and go to extraordinary places.  You will also meet and make many friends.


Evidence of this world of possibility is when I go to an informal industry ‘club’ event called HOGS. It’s an informal gathering, twice a year of the great, good and bad of the ‘past’ contract catering world – it includes past Board Level Directors, CEOs, Chairs and entrepreneurs, who are now reaping the success. It is mainly high level achievers in the industry. There are 2 ‘sirs’ who attend and a few MBE/CBE/OBE people too. All have done very well out of the industry and I’m just not sure you could get that anywhere else .

What is most remarkable is that most have come up through the ranks – started at the very bottom and made remarkable achievement to get to where they are now.

My Journey

I myself came from a council estate, had two very ordinary – but totally fantastic parents – and came from no particular entrepreneurial or business world influence. Yet here I am, having owned a multimillion pound company – unbelievable.

My education was unremarkable – scant O’ levels,  by today’s standards, a near expulsion and an OND at college- so definitely more the practical rather than the academic route. Ian Mitchell made me laugh recently saying he knew a email, from me, was phishing as it was all spelt correctly!!

Although many years later I did achieve a Post Graduate Degree, more by default rather than desire.

I think my success has been more to do with strong values and beliefs, use of common sense, ability to work hard, to be honest and be myself and crucially question and be prepared to stand out – if you don’t, then I think you have the risk of being ‘just doing ok’ – which is fine if that’s where you want to be, however to climb you need to.

I got into this industry because my older sister worked in this world and I started helping out age 14. I  discovered I had a knack for being bossy and getting things done (although I prefer ‘it’s not that I’m bossy just that I have better ideas’ –  as someone once gave me on a plaque).

Taking risks in this business is easier

There is always going to be a role for you, even if it fails first time. Having the confidence to believe in yourself is there for the taking, as never is there an industry where you can get so much training, support and guidance to achieve your goals.

So the point of the blog is to say that there is a whole bunch of people who meet twice a year who are testament to achieving the unbelievable – and it’s all because they are in an industry that allows that success, regardless of where you’re from, who you are or what low salary you may start out on.

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My earliest food memories are of my mum’s baking; coconut pyramid cakes were my favourite.

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