On Feb 22nd, 2013
Today is a proud but quiet milestone in my life; I have just been informed that my AHCIMA status with the Institute of Hospitality has just been upgraded to MHCIMA status.
This means that, from 30th January 2013, I am now a full Member of the Institute of Hospitality, an honour given under the common seal of the Institute.
My career in hospitality started when I was 21 years old, some 25 years ago. After a somewhat ‘hard’ upbringing in Middlesbrough I literally left (Dick Whittington style) one Sunday morning and, to cut a long story short, ended my journey at the Bull Hotel in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire. Quite a contrast from North to South!
I simply asked the Bars Manager, a very handsome and well-presented gentleman named Jerry Mitchinson, for a job and, after a conversation about ‘The Boro’ Jerry kindly offered me a position looking after the huge cellar operation and I made up my hours working in the bars. I can’t thank Jerry enough however, I now need to admit I support Leeds United.
I worked extremely hard, I wasn’t at all bothered about the hours, the pay or the accommodation (I lived in the same block as the many kitchen porters). I had a great attitude and thought that if I worked 80 hours a week than I would learn and experience twice as much as anyone else. To top it all, Jerry got me introduced to the Royal Household and I started playing football for Her Majesty the Queen.
A new General Manager arrived shortly after. A very young northern up-and-coming talent named Paul Clayton. Unfortunately Jerry left to pursue a career in sales selling buttons! I totally admired Mr Clayton, his standards were very high, his expectations of people were demanding, his management style for tough and he was now my new role model as well as his Deputy Manager, Mr Cook. I recall knocking on Mr Clayton’s office one day and asking for the Bars Managers position. He told me we already had a Bars Manager and I said “I know we do but, I’m better than him.” Two weeks later I was promoted to, yes you’ve guessed it, Bars Manager. Mr Clayton promised that if I achieved 12 positive monthly stock results that he would promote me to his Assistant Manager. He kept his word and he informed me after a very busy New Year’s Eve shift much to the disdain of the other three assistant managers. I didn’t care!
After a while I left to spend time as Food and Beverage Manager at the Devonshire Arms Hotel in Bolton Abbey but, it wasn’t for me so, I returned to the Bull Hotel as Restaurant Manager however, Mr Clayton had also moved on and we had a new GM, Rhodri Mitchell.
I turned the restaurant around; it was busy at lunch, busy at dinner, fully booked with locals on a Saturday and a superb loyal following for Sunday Lunch. This is when I truly fell in love with food, drink, service and looking after guests. I was crazy, this was my restaurant and these were my guests. I served Dennis Thatcher, Ken Russell, Paul Gascoigne, Geoff Hurst, Cilla Black, Paul Daniels and, my favourite by far, Des O’ Connor.
I wanted to be better and knew my lack of academic knowledge and theory was going to be an issue so, I went along to Thames Valley University and enrolled on a 2 year course to try and achieve an HCIMA Professional Certificate and started September 1992 and graduated in 1994. It was a wonderful and proud moment for all my hard work however, I was the only person at the ceremony who couldn’t afford a graduation gown. I celebrated at the Chicago Pizza Factory in Hanover Square, someone should reinvent that brand!
Many years have passed and I believe that I have been able to progress in management in restaurants, hotels, pubs, contract catering and consultancy with a unique blend of both experience and my degree and I feel honoured to now be a Member based on a further 19 years of hard work and experience.
I have spent time working for many great people including Nico Ladenis, Roy Ackerman, Nick Scade, Jonathan Doughty and, along with Paul Clayton I would like to say “Thank You.”