Can you tell us about your current role?
I currently run my own café/restaurant Putia Pure Food Kitchen, I don’t work in the kitchen fulltime, as I have a fantastic team of staff who run the café for me. I do work on site in our office. I spend most of my time, working on the business, this includes the general running of the business, organising our cooking classes and facilitators, rostering, overseeing staff, and the business side of the restaurant, I work very closely with my Executive Chef who runs the kitchen in my café and also the kitchen in Clapham Junction Wine Bar which is next door to my place and which I own with my partner Simon. Simon runs and works in the bar and I act as a business sounding board, giving them a hand when they need it. I also run my Food Tour business, taking small groups to Europe on my bespoke food wine and cooking tours, and I do some contract/cooking demonstration and speaking work as well as a couple of ambassador ships.
2. What has been some of the highlights of this position?
Being able to have all my businesses running together and having them beautifully integrate with eachother, building a successful café/restaurant from nothing to a thriving business with over 20 staff.
3. Can you tell us a bit about your career before this current position?
I owned Mondo Organics restaurant for 7 years, had a fabulous stint on Ready Steady Cook one of the first reality cooking shows and worked for some big named brands as their brand ambassador, I started my Foot Tours about 8 years ago so I was running them as well as lots of travelling around the country facilitating cooking classes, cooking demonstrations and workshops.
4. What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment?
The costs associated with running a business including wages, BAS, Super, overheads, everything has gone up except what we can charge for food and or what people are prepared to pay, so it makes it quite difficult to make a profit or come out on top no matter how hard you try.
5. What do you see as a possible solution to the growing shortage of chefs?
There are good chefs around, I don’t think there is a shortage, it’s the industry that has to change to encourage more chefs to get back to the kitchen – this comes down to owners paying their staff properly, working conditions and hours and chefs not being taken advantage of… that’s why there is a shortage, not because there are no chefs, its because places are not willing to pay for quality hard working chefs and no one wants to be working an 80 hour + week for nothing.