Catering for success

Contract
caterer Aramark is combating the industry’s skills shortages by hiring chefs
from hotels and highlighting the progress of staff from washing-up jobs to
managerial positions.

Aramark
employs more than 3,500 people across the UK, with clients as diverse as
Nomura, Arthur Andersen, the Royal Navy and HM Prisons.

Contract
catering has been hit by the same skills shortage affecting the rest of the
industry, which left 30,000 unfilled catering places across London over
Christmas (News, 5 December 2000). The company must also try to overcome the
stigmatised image of contract catering.

Aramark
is an accredited provider of NVQs in food hygiene and catering, and provides
all staff with training-based career progression to allow the company to keep
its employees in the fold. Training director Jenny Wright said, “We find that
if employees stay with us for 12 months they tend to stay for three to five
years.”

HR
managers at the company have five weeks to fill vacancies to try to beat the
shortage. The company aims  to double in
size its two-and-a-half years.

Simon
Warren, executive chef with Aramark’s operation at Arthur Andersen, has
recruited two of his team of 12 chefs from hotels. He convinced the chefs to join
by providing them with the chance to cook restaurant-quality food and enter
national cooking championships. Senior chefs working with Aramark also get the
opportunity to go on cooking secondments with top hotel chefs such as Charlie
Trotter.

Two
of Warren’s chefs began their careers at Aramark as general assistants, while
another began as a kitchen porter, doing the washing up.

Warren
added, “Because our chefs serve food to customers as they cook, they also get
to develop customer service skills.”

By
Richard Staines

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