Be like Raymond Blanc and help us to raise funds this Christmas

Christmas can be a particularly tough time of year for those who work in hospitality. With long hours and demanding work schedules, those who turn to us for support have little time to focus on themselves as they do all they can to give others their perfect Christmas. And that’s why, two weeks ago, celebrated Chef and Hospitality Action Patron Raymond Blanc OBE kick-started our festive celebrations at a rather special fundraising dinner which raised an epic £29,000!

Agnar Sverrisson and Monsieur Blanc

Monsieur Blanc was joined behind the stoves by some of his protégés and peers including Benoit Blin and Gary Jones of the two Michelin-starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Robin Gill of the award winning The Dairy and Aggi Sverrisson from the Michelin-starred Texture. Lending support throughout the evening was Chino Latino’s Executive Group Chef Werner Seebach who opened his restaurant doors at the Park Plaza London Riverbank and enabled us to host our final fundraising dinner of 2018 at this fantastic location.

The mouth-watering main course

We are extremely thankful to all of our sponsors including Aubrey Allen, Classic Fine Foods, Devon Eel Company, Jellybean Creative Solutions, Mash, Oranka, Reynolds, Swaledale, Taittinger, Wellocks and Wenlock Spring as well as prize donors, including Condé Nast Johansens who contributed a fantastic £500 worth of gift vouchers, to help ensure the evening’s success.

It’s not too late to raise money on our behalf this December. For a quick way to help us #spreadsomewarmth simply text WARM18 £10 to 70070 to donate £10. Or why not sign up to our “Hats off for HA” campaign where we’re asking restaurants and hotels to donate their cloakroom fees during the month of December. To find out more and get your fundraising pack email Kirsty at klyons@hospitalityaction.org.uk or give us a ring on: 020 3004 5505.

Debt and un-seasonal visitors

Sadly, we continue to receive many calls from hospitality people who are living in fear of a visit from the bailiffs. In the UK 1 in 14 adults are in problem debt, and the financial pressures of the festive season often add to that burden regardless of whether there are extra shifts available during December.

Callers often complain of aggressive language in letters and intimidating behaviour from bailiffs on the doorstep. Debts can quickly spiral beyond control and leave people bewildered and at risk of having property re-possessed.

This issue has attracted national interest with people like  Martin Lewis the ‘Money Saving Expert’ calling for a change in the law to address the risk of suicide as a result of financial worries. A change in the law is something we’d applaud.

If you or a colleague is worried about mounting debt, there are lots of ways we can help you.

The first thing to do is not panic – pick up the phone and call our 24/7 helpline on 0808 802 0282 – we can give you practical advice to help get things back on track.

Specialist debt advice – working with our partner PayPlan we can help you come to terms with your debt levels and look at your best route forwards.

Psychological support – money matters can be stressful and put pressure on all aspects of daily life. We’re here to provide a friendly ear and practical advice.

Hardship grants – You may qualify for a grant to help you with household expenses to provide a little financial breathing space

Winter fuel grants (for working age and retired people) – fuel poverty is a real issue at this time of year, you may qualify for a grant to help with spiralling energy costs.

The stress caused by debt can be stressful and in extreme cases, life threatening so if you or a colleague are worried call us on 0808 802 0282 or for information on our grants visit the Grants page on our website or call the grants team on 020 3004 5500.

Listening, engaging, empathising: steps to reducing suicide in the hospitality industry

I want to talk about suicide. Specifically, I want to open a debate on how to help hospitality workers reaching the point of despair by offering practical and emotional support; and by propagating a culture across the industry in which people are able to talk about their darkest thoughts and, crucially, are listened to and spoken to sensitively and appropriately.

It’s been heartening to hear the industry talk more about mental health issues over the past few months. At HA, we’ve played our part. We were proud, for example, to work with The Caterer on their recent mental health awareness themed issue.

But, as an industry, we’re still losing far too many precious lives to suicide.

We live in a hectic and overwhelming world. For some people, this can spark feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and depression; and these in turn can set off a downward spiral of negative thinking.

People contemplate suicide for many reasons. According to the Samaritans, it’s often caused by an accumulation of difficulties that leave people feeling there is no way out. The kinds of difficulties that might increase the risk of suicide include relationship breakdown, painful or disabling illness, bereavement, bullying, loneliness and financial difficulties.

People with conditions such as severe depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can be particularly vulnerable. There is also a very high correlation between suicide and substance abuse.

Add the particular stresses hospitality people encounter – pressure, adrenaline peaks and crashes, long hours – and you have a dangerous cocktail.

According to research from mental health charity, Mind, suicide rates are higher in men than in women across all age groups. Suicide is now the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK.

Suicidal feelings are driven by the fear that you’ve reached the end of your resources. But with the right kind of support, resources can be restored and replenished, pain can be processed, and new ways to live life can be found.

In 2019, we’re determined to create a step-change in attitudes and prevention strategies across hospitality.

Suicidal behaviour is often described as a “cry for help”, as if it’s not to be taken seriously. But passing off talk of suicide as attention-seeking is dangerous. Anyone thinking or talking in these terms is in deep distress. If someone you know is talking like this, don’t be afraid of engaging with them. Talking about suicide with a sympathetic listener has never driven anyone to kill themselves.

But how? And how do we spot the signs, if someone isn’t actually talking about suicide?

The time has come to put strategies in place across the industry.

We’re not experts in this field, and there are many experts out there. We’ll seek their their expertise, then focus it through the lens of hospitality.

At this point, we’re looking for expressions of interest. Does this post resonate with you? I’m at mark@hospitalityaction.org.uk, or you’ll find me on Twitter (@marklewis32).

By collaborating on this important project, we can save lives.

 

The Staff Canteen helps Hospitality Action as it helps build careers …

Support for Hospitality Action comes in all shapes and sizes.

Some people like to skydive, others prefer to ease into a bath full of baked beans. Troy Smith opts for Tough Mudders and other endurance sports. Meanwhile, Denise this summer cycled from London to Paris in memory of her husband, Paul.

Next month, our friends at the Staff Canteen, the UK’s largest online network of professional chefs, are supporting us at the first of a new series of events aiming to celebrate hospitality as a great career choice.

UK hospitality will never resolve its enduring skills shortage until it takes proactive steps to sell itself as a career of choice – and that starts with showcasing why it’s such an amazing sector to work in.

The Staff Canteen Live college tour is taking top chefs back to college in a first step to tackling the chef shortage at grass roots level, by highlighting the many and varied career options available in foodservice. The tour aims to inform students on how to forge a successful career in hospitality. It’s being run in partnership with the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.

The tour’s first stop is at Westminster Kingsway College, on Monday, 3 December, where students will be able to quiz a panel of chefs comprising Michelin-starred John Williams MBE, Executive Chef at The Ritz; Alyn Williams, Chef Patron of Alyn Williams at The Westbury and The Wild Rabbit; Rob Kennedy, Culinary Director at Compass Group UK and Ireland; Glenn Evans, Head of Food Development at Las Iguanas; and Ruth Hansom, Head Chef at Luton Hoo Hotel.

For John Williams and Ruth, the event will be a trip down memory lane – both studied at Westminster Kingsway.

John is encouraging students to “listen and learn from us as we have been there and done it”.

And Ruth agrees. “It’s important to nurture and encourage young people into the industry”, she says. “It can be tough but it’s also rewarding, which is why it’s important to find the best route for you. It’s key to show young people all the avenues as they are so diverse.”

Mark Morris, Founder of The Staff Canteen, says: “on our panel are some of the most successful chefs working in the industry today. They all began their careers in a very similar environment to the students who join the tour. I hope we communicate that our panel have been successful through hard work; and that all that’s separating the students and them, is a structured career path and a strong work ethic.”

The event will be live-streamed on The Staff Canteen’s Facebook page and YouTube channel from 5pm. It’s the first of four events at colleges around the UK, in the coming months.

If you’d like to get involved in future tour events, email jen@thestaffcanteen.com or call 0330 202 1051.

And what’s in it for HA? The Staff Canteen will be donating £1000 to us on behalf of the chefs on the panel, to reflect the fact that we provide a safety net to catch chefs and other hospitality workers, if they fall.

Thanks, Staff Canteen.

Forget Black Friday, we’ve got LOTS of awesome gifts

 

Before you get swept up in the consumerist wave of Black Friday and Cyber Monday take a moment to check out our 16th Christmas annual online auction.

Forget socks, flamingo egg cups (really, they’re a thing) or never-to-be-used vouchers for shops that only have three branches at the opposite end of the country. We’ve got some of the most unique and exciting gifts for the foodie in your life.

Today sees the launch of our annual online auction. There are some amazing lots on offer including:

There are some unique experiences in our auction that make the perfect gift for that special someone. The final deadline for bids is 2pm on Friday November 30thget your bids in now.

Your gift won’t just make your loved one’s Christmas magical, you’ll be spreading some warmth to our beneficiaries. Your generosity could help a family through one of their most challenging times.

Plus, if you buy one of our lots we promise you won’t get involved in a brawl at ASDA over a TV.

Going once… Going twice… Get bidding!

 

 

Joining the Fundraising team, and events to look forward to

Hi, I’m Kirsty, new Fundraising & Marketing Executive at Hospitality Action.

It is my third week as an official member of the Fundraising team; however, I have been working with Hospitality Action for the past year, across the Fundraising, Grants and EAP teams as the charity has been growing and getting busier. This has given me a unique perspective into how HA works, and how we help to support the people in our industry on a daily basis.

My background is in scientific publishing, administration and events organisation, and I hadn’t had any involvement in the hospitality industry prior to joining HA. I have learned so much about how the industry works and the hard work done every day by amazing, passionate people behind the scenes that the public don’t see when we visit a restaurant or hotel, for instance.

It has also been a real eye-opener for me to see the struggles that people who work in the hospitality industry, or who have previously worked in the industry, go through. Whether it is somebody applying for a grant, or making use of the EAP via their workplace, in my relatively short time at HA I have seen so many stories of people who have fallen on hard times through illness, addiction, trauma or other  difficult circumstances. It has been humbling to see how the work that HA does to provide the support they need – financial, emotional or otherwise – has such a huge impact on their lives, and how grateful they are to the charity for providing the support they are often desperately seeking.

The work that the Fundraising team do is crucial to raise the funds to make all this possible. I’m very excited to have joined the team here at HA, knowing the work that I will be doing will have a tangible benefit to those in need. There are a lot of exciting fundraising events coming up, and I can’t wait to be a part of making those events fun for everyone, and raising money for HA at the same time.

26 November: Raymond Blanc OBE
This December: Hats Off for HA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am very much looking forward to being involved in this year’s Christmas events. The Festive Fundraising Dinner on 26th November with the legendary Raymond Blanc OBE will certainly be a special evening, and a great way to kick off Christmas celebrations. I am also co-ordinating a brand new fundraising campaign running throughout December called Hats Off for HA, where we’re asking hotels and restaurants to donate their cloakroom fees to us – an easy way for businesses to generate awareness, raise money and be in with a chance of winning a prize.

Interested in taking part in Hats Off for HA? Or attending an event? Or perhaps you want to know about other ways you can support HA? Say hello and email me at klyons@hospitalityaction.org.uk or call me on 020 3004 5505.

The type of experience money can’t buy.

One of the amazing things about HA is the lengths our supporters will go to in order to create wonderful fundraising events. Experiences that are so unique and special you simply couldn’t buy them anywhere else for all the money in the world. Our Christmas dinner is just one example, bringing together some of the biggest names in European cuisine.

If you want to be part of this evening there are just a handful of tickets left, get yours here. The event takes place at Chino Latino at Park Plaza London Riverbank at 7pm on Monday November 26th.

As if having the legend that is Raymond Blanc cook for you isn’t enough – he’s also bringing along some of his protégés and the people he has influenced. All superstars in their own right.

 Let’s start with the three musketeers themselves

Raymond Blanc OBE, Benoit Blin & Gary Jones 

Best-selling author and star of numerous television programmes including the BBC’s ‘Kew on a Plate’ and ‘Kitchen Secrets’ Raymond Blanc OBE has nurtured some of the country’s most respected chefs and 34 of his protégées have gone on to win Michelin stars for themselves. Monsieur Blanc’s Executive Head Chef, Gary Jones has led the kitchen brigade at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons since 1999 and his Chef Pâtissier Benoit Blin has twice been a judge on the BBC2 Bake Off Crème de la Crème programme and more recently Channel 4s Bake Off, The Professionals. These three are the powerhouses behind Le Manoir ensuring the hotel retains its much-coveted stars and topping The Caterer’s Hoteliers Hotels power-list for the second year running. And they could be cooking for you.

Meet the rest of the dynamic half-dozen behind the stoves.

Robin Gill

In 2013 Robin opened The Dairy which has reached number nine in The National Restaurant Awards, the top 50 in the Good Food Guide and was awarded a Bib Gourmand this past September. Robin has also opened the popular Counter Culture and Sorella restaurants and has received the Good Food Guide Chef of the Year award and has also acted as a judge on MasterChef Ireland.

Aggi Sverrisson

Iceland-born Aggi has spent time at the Michelin-starred restaurant Pétrus, the highly acclaimed Léa Linster in Luxembourg and of course, at the two Michelin-starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. His own flagship venture, Texture Restaurant, was voted The Independent’s New Restaurant of the Year in 2007 and received its first Michelin star in 2010.

Werner Seebach

The evening will be hosted by Executive Group Chef Werner Seebach of Chino Latino who will prepare the delicious canapés and petits fours. Werner joined Chino Latino at the Riverbank Park Plaza hotel as Head Chef before being appointed Group Head Chef for Chino Latino London, Leeds, and Nottingham, winning a Catey award for Best Restaurant Team Of The Year.

This promises to be one of the culinary events of the year with some of the biggest chefs on the scene all behind the stoves together. Raymond will be conducting a live Q&A so you can find out some of the secrets to his success at first hand.

The last few tickets are on sale now, make sure you bag one while you can!

Events for Hospitality Action don’t need to be huge…it’s about spreading the word, by Stuart Mathieson

L-R, Mick Smith, Ben Prior, Jude Kereama and Stuart Mathieson

Cornwall may have once been considered a culinary backwater but today that’s far from the truth. Luminaries such as Nathan Outlaw, Paul Ainsworth and Chris Eden lead the Michelin brigade, while stars of the small screen such as Jude Kereama, Tom Brown and Rick Stein along with well recognised names such as Ben Tunnicliffe, Guy Owen, Ben Prior and Andy Appleton, amongst many others, have transformed the region. Not to mention Front of House specialists such as Acorn winner Rachel Henley and Lyndsey Marshall and of course, the county boasts Fifteen Cornwall, the inspiration of Jamie Oliver.

What is so laudable is that in the social media age, chefs such as these are no longer competitors jealously guarding their recipes and techniques, they actively share their skills and vision with each other in the knowledge that sharing resources and supporting each other is good for everyone and makes Cornwall the culinary destination that it is.

There are very few industry professionals, management, kitchen and FoH who don’t know about Hospitality Action (HA) in the Duchy and we are so fortunate in that putting together an event for the charity is not so much of a case of cajoling someone to run an event, but more a case of dealing with the waiting list!

L-R, Mick Smith, Ben Prior & Jude Kereama

Our recent “end of season BBQ” was an example of this. Mick Smith, Executive Chef of the Portminster Beach Café, approached me early last year, having listened to Penny Moore, the previous CEO of HA, talking on Radio 4 about the charity and the support it gives hospitality staff who have fallen on hard times. He was inspired to do something to raise funds, but needed a couple of other chefs for support. Two phone calls yielded an immediate and positive response from serial HA supporter Jude Kereama from Kota Restaurant at Porthleven and a new recruit who had already flagged up his readiness to do something, Ben Prior from Ben’s Cornish kitchen in Marazion, and the BBQ concept was born.

Food, drink and staffing were next on the agenda and, again, it was a question of a few calls to avid HA supporters who always react favourably to requests by the charity. Sharps Brewery and Total Produce Cornwall came on board without discussion, as did Udale, Celtic Fish & Game and Matthew Stevens, the seafood and fish specialist. Newcomers, to supporting HA in Cornwall, Enotria and LWC, rounded off the list of sponsors. As for staffing, talk to your nearest Catering College. Students need work experience as part of their curriculum and the opportunity to work with superstars of the catering industry and satisfy a section of their studies is heaven sent for both students and their lecturers. Thank you Truro and Penwith College who stepped forward to help.

Promotion is down to you but the Hospitality Action office provides a service, second to none in terms of advice, copy and promotion. Give them the details and they are astonishingly supportive and hugely efficient.

Hospitality Action provides a vital service to our industry and it is up to us to lend our support. The more we can do to raise awareness of the charity the better. Helping HA is also a great way to motivate staff and engage customers. If you’d like to host your own event, wherever you are in the UK, don’t hesitate to give the HA fundraising team a call: 020 3004 5504 and see where your idea may take you!

Could 2019 be the year you host an event to support your fellow hospitality people?

An amazing thing happened last Tuesday. Jose Pizarro joined forces with Chris and Jeff Galvin to cook up a storm at a gala fundraising dinner in aid of Hospitality Action at Jose’s eponymous restaurant at the top of Bermonsdey Street.

The result? A wonderfully enjoyable gourmet evening – and £17,000 in the HA kitty to spend on helping hospitality people in difficulty.

A full house of Galvin and Pizarro fans gathered to enjoy a spectacular feast, celebrating the very best of Spanish/French cuisine:

  • Croquettas squid ink with Alioli Jamón Ibérico 100%, 5J, Acorn fed Brochette of Autumn Vegetables
  • Escabeche of Yellow fin Tuna, smoked Aubergine caviar
  • Presa Ibérica 5J , Mushroom and Romesco sauce
  • Saint-Marcellin, Torta del casar
  • Apple tarte Tatin & Normandy crème fraîche.

As well as benefiting from ticket sales, we profited from a live auction, silent auction and £20 prize draw.

At HA, we run a full schedule of fundraising events aimed at generating revenues that we can then disburse as grants. And we’re immensely grateful to everyone who supports these events, which range from cycle challenges to pub quizzes, and from polo days to blue riband chefs’ dinners (check out our Raymond Blanc Dinner in London, next month).

However, we’re never happier than when kind people like Jose, Chris and Jeff reach out and tell us they’re freestyling an event themselves, on our behalf.

Could you have an HA event in you? Would you like to engage with your client base and show them you’re proud to support your own industry charity?

We’d love to hear from you.

Reflections on joining HA, and why our work is more important than ever.

Hi, I’m Jeremy, and it’s my third week as the newly-appointed Marketing Director at Hospitality Action.

During my career I’ve been lucky enough to work close to the hospitality industry for The Caterer magazine, and in digital fundraising for the international charities WaterAid and Christian Aid. I’m looking forward to bringing my experience to HA as we embark on the next exciting phase in our evolution.

The highlight of my first week was getting to experience the generosity of our supporters at first hand. I was lucky enough to join chefs Jose Pizarro along with Chris and Jeff Galvin as they prepared signature dishes for an audience of fans, foodies and suppliers – all for the benefit of HA. I was taken with how committed they were both to their own teams but also the wellbeing of the wider industry. As the auction lots rolled in, I felt a real sense of pride for our industry and those who work to support it.

As a marketing chap, I’ll be thinking about how we describe ourselves, our beneficiaries, supporters and what we do. World Mental Health Day last week was a great thought starter.

There has been a step change in the way we talk about mental health, and it’s a fantastic thing to see. From Chef Andrew Frost who took to Instagram to share the story of how HA’s action line had helped him, to high profile leaders like Sat Bains symbolically removing themselves from social media to raise awareness of the pressures of our always-on lifestyle. Our friends (and my former colleagues) at The Caterer even dedicated a whole issue of the magazine to the campaign. All of these things point to a de-stigmatisation of mental health which is something HA and other charities have been working towards for years and a fact we should celebrate.

I can’t wait to start work on developing the way we communicate how we help people and the difference it makes to their lives. Ours is a fraternal industry and the people who HA help aren’t miles away – they’re our colleagues, friends and employees – and who knows – maybe one day, any one of us could need a bit of help. HA, and the wider industry helps out our friends in a time of need to help them get back on their feet. I’m keen to evolve how we tell these stories and to develop new ways that you can support us to do more of this vitally important work.

Watch this space! I’m keen to hear any comments, stories or thoughts, drop them in the comments section below or email me at jgibson at hospitalityaction.org.uk