Where do you currently work and what do you do?
I am a relief Chef for Blue Arrow servicing many sites including Sodexo sites.
How long have you been a Chef?
Put it this way, my daughter is 38 and I have been a Chef longer than I have been a father.
Tell me about a typical day at work
I start at the crack of dawn, some days I am prepping for the Head Chef and other days I am cooking the main meals. It depends on the day really.
How to Sodexo sites compare to others?
All catering sites are pretty much the same now, how things change is more dependent on the Head Chef you are working under. Some Chefs give you more freedom than others while some provide more support it is not really down to the site, more the team.
Are you ever nervous about starting at a new site?
No, I am an outgoing person so it’s fine for me. I have been doing it so long now. You just have to be confident in your skills. Your cooking will speak for itself.
Do you receive any training before you start at a new site?
As a Chef you are expected to know what you are doing to fulfil your job but they will give you training if things are different for a particular site. Mostly your Chef training covers you for everything you need to know.
Are you aware of any career progression or self-development options?
I personally want to retire soon so I would prefer to try something a little different before I do that, so I am not looking to progress any further as a Chef at this stage in my life. I do get the chance to cook the food I want and I don’t always have to follow a strict menu so I can develop my creativity in cooking.
What do you like most about being a Chef?
I love pleasing people. For me, I aim to please the people I am serving because if they like the food I cook then they are happy and then my boss is happy. It starts with keeping the customers happy and serving good food.
What do you dislike most about your job?
Stock control because the lifting and carrying is not easy for someone as ‘young’ as me. I would get away from that part if I could.
What is your kitchen environment like?
It is pretty standard, we have the equipment we need, the facilities are comparable with others. Kitchens don’t tend to vary too much throughout the industry, but I will say that Sodexo is pretty high up there for attracting good Chefs, did you know that some celebrity Chefs started out at Sodexo!
What are the other Chefs in your team like?
They are ok, kind of like anywhere really, 90% are great the odd few are not so great but that’s just the way it goes with people.
Do you receive on the job support from management?
The Head Chef is your first port of call, they will always encourage you to ask if you don’t know something or if you need help.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in a catering career?
Where possible try to get an apprenticeship, you will learn so much but also, if you can go to college to learn to be a Chef and work in an agency, the experience will be the most valuable thing you can get.
Always try to do as many courses as you can, vary things as well. Do a course in confectionery or pastry, anything that will build your CV up and get you the most opportunities to develop your cooking.
Would you recommend being a Chef to a friend?
Absolutely, it is hard and the mainstream pay is not great but if you love to cook then it is not about the money it is about doing what you love and building recognition for your talents.