Healthy Eating At Work
Hospitality and Service in contract catering
What’s the difference?
I have read many articles about the difference between hospitality and service, which are both connected to customer service.
Hospitality can be described as “the relationship between a guest and a host, wherein the host receives the guest with some amount of goodwill, including the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers.”
Service can be described as “the action of helping or doing work for someone”
If you are working back of house and you don’t have any interaction with guests you will provide a service. If you are working front of house you will provide a service with hospitality.
Within our workplace dining contracts the labour structure is such that all members of the team provide service and hospitality. Our kitchens are open plan meaning that the customers enjoy a bit of theatre while the Chef Manager is working, have a bit of banter, or discuss how the food is prepared, provenance, and allergens, for example. Our Catering Assistants establish a close rapport with customers at the hot counter serving breakfast, lunch and backshift, and while servicing the vending machines. Our customers are in their place of work regularly, so the relationship between customer and catering team becomes very strong. Standard questions like “What would you like for breakfast?” are no longer as important, as people are creatures of habit.
Our team intuitively remember individual likes and dislikes, those with allergens or special dietary requirements, who likes to have a bit of banter and who doesn’t. They quickly understand who fits in where in the organisation, and how to act around them in an informal situation on the counter and a formal situation providing a sandwich lunch in a sales meeting.
Our team tend to be the first person an employee interacts with when the production line breaks, or at the end of a tense phone call, or an appraisal, and absorb the mood of the person accordingly. They learn all about their job, the issues, the highs and lows, personal life, family, and what is going on in the workplace. And they adapt their behaviour accordingly by offering sympathy, a smile, a recommendation for today’s special, or just lend an ear when required. And they know that discretion is everything. That is hospitality and empathy. You can train someone to be empathetic to a degree, or there are people in the industry who are just naturally talented at hospitality and service and would also make excellent social workers or therapists as they have a naturally caring personality.
I saw a classic example of this the other day in one of our sites when a customer had received some bad personal news, and a member of the team brought their favourite lunch to their desk without even having to be asked for it. Or the time I answered the kitchen phone at a site and a customer asked to order a salad. Drilling down to the person’s requirements was met with “I don’t really know – Jackie usually decides for me”!
People buy people, and workplace dining is such a personal style of hospitality that can’t be compared to buying your lunch at a local sandwich bar, or ordering a takeaway delivered via an app. As we are in the workplace we become an intrinsic part of the employee’s daily life.
I salute everyone involved in hospitality and service for making someone’s day – every day!
I’m delighted to say that recruitment, selection and interviewing is very much a part of my day to day tasks presently. Refreshing, too, is the increase in the number of excellent candidates who are applying for the roles – a welcome shift after a period post covid when I would be lucky to get even one or two candidates apply, who, when contacted would disappear into the ether.
Could the interview process be re-engineered? Is it fit for purpose and effective?” started me thinking about my own experiences as an interviewer, and looking at the process through the eyes of the interviewee.
Good open questions are essential to allow the candidate to talk from experience and provide essential information about them and their suitability for the role. An example of this might be “Your CV tells me that you mobilised a new restaurant opening. Can you talk me through how you were involved?”
Where possible, I interview a candidate along with a scribe, who will write down the answers to the questions. It’s impossible to really absorb the answers when you are concentrating on the next question. And the scribe can also observe body language.
I also agree that the process should be as short as possible, as the longer it takes, the more likely you are to lose the best candidate. We are a service company and we always invite our potential candidates to spend a day working with us (for which they are paid), to give both parties the opportunity to decide if the relationship is going to be a positive one.
I’m assuming that “talk at talent” refers to someone who has been highlighted as being suitable for a role because of their past experience or attributes? There may be a number of factors that the candidate may also be considering , for example their five year career plan, salary, benefits, travel time, and current domestic situation, and they don’t want to be shoehorned into a role they are not really committed to.
While automated interview systems can save time and remove interviewer and candidate bias, one thing they cannot do is replace human behaviour. I have never used this tool, and if I did it would be a small part of the process.
I do agree that generic job descriptions and specifications need to be revised to include the employees approach to the customer and service, and that company policies on sustainability and their role in community and society should be part of the interview process as a positive selling tool for the organisation.
The world is changing and as we start to recruit more Gen Z and Millenial candidates, and focus on equality and diversity within our organisation, old fashioned processes can’t be tolerated. They are independent, grew up with social media, the internet and technology, are very aware of the social, economic and environmental issues happening globally, and are vocal about social justice and gender issues. We all need to revisit our recruitment processes to ensure we increase the talent pool and focus on the culture of our organisations, speed up and personalise the process, look at people not CV’s and look at the actual job behind the job title.
What have your experiences been as an interviewer or a candidate?
If you’re not quite ready for Christmas and looking for some festive menus that don’t involve an inexhaustible shopping list, click on the link below for some simple recipes only requiring five ingredients…
My favourite is the Slow Cooker Cola Ham…
Merry Christmas from Albacore!
When the nights draw in and the air gets chilly, the mind inevitably turns to warming, full-flavoured comfort food. Whether you have a distinctly sweet tooth, or revel in life's more savoury pleasures, this collection will have a dish for you.
Please click on the link below…
Christmas is back!
How is your company celebrating the festive season this year?
It’s 43 sleeps until Christmas Day, and here’s hoping that for the first time in three years families can spend Christmas Day together again.
Most of us who do celebrate Christmas managed to do so in some form or another over the last two years, whether it was virtually, outside in the garden wearing many layers, or, in some cases, carrying on regardless.
This year the Albacore team are looking forward to providing a fortnight of festive lunches and events for our clients and their employees.
The Christmas jumpers will be reunited with their owners from the back of the wardrobe, the servery and seating areas will be decorated with tinsel, baubles and lights, and there might even be a tree! There may be an exchange of Secret Santa presents.
And this year people can sit together with their teams instead of a table for one, they can enjoy a delicious turkey dinner using crockery, cutlery and glassware, pull crackers, and sing along to Michael Buble’s Christmas hits!
This may be the first time they have all sat down together as a team in three years, and this is an event that can really bring everyone together and cement relationships that have perhaps only ever been virtual. And most importantly, it’s an opportunity for employees to feel appreciated for all the hard work they’ve achieved in 2022. We are really looking forward to it!
With the passing of Queen Elizabeth earlier this month, it is interesting to look back on the monarch’s impact on dining over the past seventy years through the eyes of those who worked closely with her.https://www.foodandwine.com/news/how-queen-elizabeth-impacted-food-drink?hid=55d09a47720729402ac0c73a476582c6bb6f5378&did=837350-20220911&utm_campaign=faw-top10_newsletter&utm_source=foodandwine.com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=091122&cid=837350&mid=96816869894&lctg=78702369
ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES BEGINNING TO FEEL THE PINCH?
Caring employers can demonstrate their commitment to employee welfare at this time of crippling energy bills and food inflation by providing a subsidised catering facility offering their workforce a choice of nutritional and affordable meals at break time.
Social media, newspapers and television broadcasters are currently bombarding the public with tales of doom - soaring energy bills, the Ukraine war affecting food prices, and more and more food banks and charities opening up to help families make ends meet. Unions are demanding pay increases, workers are on strike – in fact you could almost believe we are back in the 1970’s! People are feeling the strain of increased costs against their salary.
Employees not eating regular nutritious meals could become unwell, resulting in long term absences or inability to continue in their role, particularly if it requires the individual to be physically and mentally fit. You can reduce the likelihood of absence through illness by providing a canteen for your workforce with healthy options at a subsidised tariff.
Yes - it is an overhead to your organisation, however replacing employees on long term sick and recruiting inducting and training new members of your work are equally expensive. An unhappy workforce causes interruptions on the production line and lead to loss of product or time. The canteen is their place of sanctuary to relax and unwind with their colleagues away from their place of work.
Over 25 years, Albacore have transformed the culture of many well-known Scottish companies with our simple philosophy of providing fresh local produce simply prepared and served by our team of professional chefs and assistants who are always prepared to go the extra mile.
The space you choose for your catering facility should be convenient for your workforce to access at break times, and should have power, water and extraction. With the capital expenditure you have available we will advise the best use of the space operationally for the kitchen, equipment, serving area, and seating area layout, and recommend the style of service best suited to your organisation in relation to your budget. We will then transform the area into a vibrant social space for your workforce with our professional catering team providing a friendly service and fantastic food.
You are at a point of decision.
Get in touch for an initial chat!
M 07734 734 974
Watching the closing ceremony of the 2022 Games the other night with Ozzy Osbourne, UB40 and Dexys Midnight Runners, brought back fond and vivid memories of when I worked at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games exactly 36 years ago!
Literally two days after graduating from Napier University, I joined students and lecturers from the Napier University Hospitality Department in providing the catering operations in the Food Hall of the Athlete’s Village at the 1986 Commonwealth Games. We drew the short straw – the 6am – 2pm shift! We fed and watered breakfast and lunch to the 1,660 competitors who were based in Pollock Halls and other nearby accommodation, the volunteers and the emergency, security and transport services.
My work placement at university encompassed contract catering and five star hotels, followed by a holiday season in a restaurant on a campsite in France. Weekends during term time involved banqueting shifts at The Caledonian and Grosvenor Hotels which were an extension of my social life with my fellow students. I felt I already had quite a lot of experience in the industry, but working on an event of this magnitude was an opportunity too good to miss – and it certainly turned out to be just that!
The village mobilised a couple of weeks before the games opened, and we spent the first week gearing up, setting up systems and customer journeys while learning about global foods, portion control, customer service, and getting to grips with the politics between front of house and the kitchen.
The sheer scale of daily food, beverage and disposable orders arriving was impossible to comprehend, the top commodities being bacon, 20 litre drums of oil, chicken breasts, haddock, butter, and a daily plantation of bananas!
The range available for breakfast and lunch blew me away, with menu choices from all over the world. Onion bhajis and pakoras, pasta, eggs, rice, grilled meats, bread, yoghurt, exotic fruits and vegetables, cereal and traditional breakfast disappeared at a rate of knots from 6.30am. Our Food Hall team were paired at food stations - we were friendly faces for the athletes, standing straight (no leaning!) throughout our shift, and keeping the counters topped up by alerting the Operations Manager every time we replaced a tray from the hot cupboard below. I can’t remember her name, but I do remember she was super organised, had a great rapport with the kitchen, and worked hard to make a team out of us and make it really fun. We were instructed to control portion sizes, but found we were fighting a losing battle with the gigantic weightlifters in the war of two link sausages versus six!
To pass the time we tried to guess who played what sport by what they looked like and what they ate! I became pretty good at it.
Highlights of the event were the day that Prince Charles and Princess Diana toured the food hall, and the whole place was awash with police and sniffer dogs who were going berserk with the smell of the sausages! Also spotting famous athletes like Daley Thomson, Steve Cram, Tessa Sanderson, Liz McColgan, Steve Redgrave, Adrian Moorhouse and Yvonne Murray as they came in to eat their meal and relax with their fellow athletes.
Controversially, 32 countries boycotted the games due to Margaret Thatcher’s government’s policy of maintaining sporting links with apartheid South Africa, and the huge reduction in numbers at short notice caused a logistical headache to say the least. The City of Edinburgh was out of pocket by £500,000 due to funding issues.
Watching the Birmingham games these past few days has brought it all these memories flooding back. It also reminded me why I chose to work in hospitality in the first place.