No ordinary quiz night

Calling all Agatha Quiztie’s and Quiz Akabusi’s: the Hospitality Action Big Fat Quiz makes a comeback this spring!

Have you got what it takes to be crowned our 2019 Quiz champion?

Taking place on Monday 20th May at the London Hilton on Park Lane and hosted by 90’s icon Pat Sharp, this will be a quiz night like no other. Last year saw over 500 brainboxes battle it out from companies including Coca-Cola, BaxterStorey, The Caterer, The Goring and Unilever Food Solutions. A staggering £85,000 was raised and, with your help, we want to raise even more this time round.

Our Big Fat Quiz, supported by Bidfood, is the perfect evening to network, entertain colleagues, treat your team and most importantly, show off just how smart you are! Of course, as a HA event you can expect more than a bowl of chips and a warm beer, all guests will enjoy a drinks reception, delicious three course meal with wine and a goody bag. Tickets are £140 each or £1,300 for a table of 10 and the funds raised will go towards helping those most in need across the hospitality industry. There will also be a live auction hosted by the legendary Brian Turner CBE with many exclusive items up for grabs.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be our 2019 quiz champion simply send me an email: gvittiglio@hospitalityaction.org.uk or give me a call: 020 3004 5504 or and book yourself in to the biggest night in town!

Mental Health First Aider, an important role in every business

Following last week’s #timetotalkday which encouraged people to talk about mental health in their personal and professional life, we are proud to announce that we have our own mental health first aider at Hospitality Action. Here, newly-qualified MHFA Jo Raine, tells us a bit about her new role.

Global research indicates that one person in four will experience some form of mental health issue in the course of a year. Anxiety, depression and substance use disorders are the most common mental health illnesses in the UK. Throughout the course of any person’s life it is highly likely they will either develop mental ill health themselves or have a friend or relative who does. Yet the long-standing stigma around mental illness means that many people have a limited understanding of mental health issues and fail to seek the support they need.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised education and training programme. The aim of the programme is to extend the concept of first aid training to include mental health issues so that help can be offered to a person developing a mental health issue, experiencing the worsening of an existing mental health issue or in a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate professional help is received or until the crisis appears to have been resolved.

When Hospitality Action decided to introduce a Mental Health First Aider to our office, I was delighted to be given the opportunity to train for the role. Having completed the two–day course to become a certified mental health first aider I now feel confident that I can recognise many of the signs and symptoms of common mental health illnesses and could effectively guide a colleague to appropriate support.

We learnt how to recognise the signs that someone may be experiencing a mental health issue. The course covered some challenging areas, such as myth-busting common misconceptions about suicide and self-harm, and there was plenty of time for questions and discussion of the role of mental first aid when someone is undergoing a crisis.

The training covers how to provide non-judgemental support and reassurance to a person who is experiencing a mental health issue and guide them to seek the professional support they may need to recover. It also touched on issues such as providing Mental Health First Aid to someone from a different cultural background, which is more likely to occur in the workplace than when supporting family and friends.

Independent research and evaluation shows that taking part in a Mental Health First Aid course raises awareness of mental illnesses, encourages early intervention to aid recovery, increases confidence in dealing with mental illnesses and reduces stigma. Thanks to the development of training courses like the one I went on, employers now have an opportunity to address ignorance about mental health in the workplace and help their employees to access appropriate support.

Happy and healthy staff are more likely to perform well, have good attendance levels, interact well with colleagues and make a valuable contribution to the workplace. Investing in a Mental Health First Aider is one important way in which employers can promote positive mental health in the workplace, for the benefit of all of us.

Our Employee Assistance Programme provides operators with access to a range of support services and counselling, to find out more contact Camilla Woods.

Saddle up and come along for the ride

 

Hospitality Action is delighted to launch its fifth annual Le Tour de Cuisine – Cotswold Cycle Challenge on Monday 10th June, kindly sponsored by Sky and The Calcot Collection.

Team Sky with their medals

You will be astounded to learn that since 2015 when it first launched, the Cotswold Cycle Challenge has raised a staggering £220,000 for the charity. If you are a past participant, thank you so much for your contribution, it’s a tremendous success!

Hotels, restaurants, caterers, suppliers and hospitality businesses from the South West came together to celebrate our wonderful industry and raise much needed funds for their favorite charity. It is such a great day out: team building, networking, getting fit, coming together and having fun, all for a good cause. See here a few of the participating companies over the years.

Team Gold Key Media
Team Creed

 

 

 

 

 

Following tradition, there will be four cycle routes to choose from, which will all take in the spectacular North Cotswold countryside and will start and finish at charming Calcot.

The short ride (20 miles) is perfect for those who fancy a leisurely cycle; for those who are up for more of a challenge, there are two mid-routes to choose from (40 and 60 miles); and if these are not tough enough, then the long route (100 miles) might be more to your flavour!

We have improved all the routes again this year, staying away from the tough hills and the busy roads, making sure that cyclists of all abilities and ambition can take part and still enjoy the ride. Along the way, there will be feeding stations at Whatley Manor, The Manor at Castle Combe and at the Village Hall in Barnsley, which will offer an array of delicious delights kindly arranged by local hotels. At the finishing line at Calcot, cyclists will once again be able to enjoy a complimentary glass of Taittinger Champagne, kindly sponsored by Hatch Mansfield, a free leg massage, BBQ to celebrate their success including beverages and of course a well –deserved medal to celebrate your success.

The registration fee is £40, with a minimum of £100 sponsorship per person required to raise those much-needed funds for Hospitality Action’s cause. Let’s not forget that this is a fundraiser. Last year we raised over £50,000 for the charity, which was a truly magnificent effort.

We want to be able to assist even more hospitality people to turn their lives around this year, but we need your help to do it, so it would be really fantastic if you could participate once again with your teams and perhaps even cajole some additional industry riders to support and join in the fun! Let’s go for a record year. The funds you all raise really will make a huge difference to our work and will go towards supporting your colleagues in crisis, such as the Ellis Family.

For further information and to book your place, please visit our events page or email Maria at mcarter@hospitalityaction.org.uk

Show your support for Hospitality Action, come along for the ride!

A rare chance to network with the cream of UK hoteliers – and have some fun!

This year, the cream of the UK’s hoteliers will again don aprons and white gloves to work as waiters and sommeliers at our fourth biennial Back to the Floor event.

The idea is simple: eminent hoteliers dredge their service experience from the dustiest corners of their memories and negotiate some fiendish tasks (think silver service-d peas …), while their table guests reach for umbrellas and sou’westers to avoid a drenching by the hapless sommeliers.

This year’s event takes place at the Dorchester Hotel on 26 April, when 75 hoteliers, from Jason Adams of the Lygon Arms to Pim Wolfs of Dormy House, will be going back to their roots in aid of Hospitality Action.

I’ve been a sommelier at the previous three incarnations of this event. In Year One, at Pennyhill Park in 2013, I had the dubious honour of being named the lowest tipped sommelier, for which I was awarded a bottle of Blue Nun and the trophy pictured above. As I recall, Jeremy Rata helped me drown my sorrows with a steady supply of Laphroaig, later, in the hotel bar.

As well as the 75 hoteliers waiting at table, the Dorchester’s ballroom will be jam-packed with hotel teams who’ve come to watch their bosses’ ritual humiliation. We think this, and the storm of social media attention the event aways creates, makes Back to the Floor eminently sponsor-able.

Interested? Give me a call on 07919 324978.

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!

 

 

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

Mental Health in Hospitality – #timetotalk by Sat Bains

Sat Bains takes a break from social media to promote wellbeing on World Mental Health Day. He picks up the story…

“On 10 October, every year, the World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day. First launched by the World Federation for Mental Health in 1992, it has run almost annually since 1996 on the same day, each year dedicated to a different theme.

While previous years have focused on “mental health and older adults”, “living with schizophrenia” and “mental health in the workplace”, this year it turns its attention to “young people and mental health in a changing world”.

In the 30 or so years that I have been a chef, the world has changed beyond belief. Industry icons are only a Twitter handle away, and in culinary terms, at least, the world has most definitely shrunk. And yet, despite a seemingly smaller world and the fact that World Mental Health Day was launched almost three decades ago, mental health still faces a relentless taboo, particularly in hospitality.

The hospitality industry has given me an incredible career – I’ve achieved things I never thought possible – but there is no getting away from the fact that it has also been a demanding career and a physical one at that.

Chefs are, for the most part, fragile souls and we live wholly in the knowledge that we are only as good as our last meal. My wife Amanda and I put ourselves under immense pressure to perform at the highest possible level, and we expect no less from our teams. We run disciplined, systemised environments with high standards, and we start our day assuming that we are all on the same page – one team, one dream.

The rise of social media has brought amazing opportunities for chefs like me, it’s enabled many of us to promote our businesses, sell tables, crowdfund and get our voice heard without being beholden to one particular newspaper or another.

It has undoubtedly helped many of us build confidence and a support network among chefs and customers alike, and a steady stream of compliments can boost your ego no end. But there’s also a dark side of social media that many people, and many chefs, struggle to handle which is why I felt that launching a blackout was so important on this critical day. And so today, along with many of my colleagues and industry friends, I am quitting my personal social media channels for one week to shine a spotlight on mental health and to promote wellbeing.

Like me, many of my colleagues have addictive personalities which plays right into the hands of social media. We live in an era where many of us are slaves to our phones and we have become addicted to notifications – notifications that open us up not only to adulation, but to trolls and critics too. This dependency is not good and for me and many others I believe taking a break from social media and all it encompasses to have time to reflect on my own wellbeing and the chefs for whom I am responsible for can only be a positive thing.

As a business, wellbeing is key for us. A shorter working week, good, balanced and nutritious staff meals and our healthcare package goes some way towards ensuring this, but we also encourage fitness too – we think it’s fundamental to a positive mental attitude.

Beyond our four walls, we are fortunate to have Hospitality Action to support people in our industry through the hardest of times. Together with HA, we can break the stigmas that stop so many people asking for help and create an environment where people feel they have both the support of their line manager or a friendly ear at the end of HA’s action line.”

If you need support please call the Hospitality Action help line: 0808 802 0282. It’s free, confidential and open 24/7.

London to Paris in memory of Paul: Challenge Completed

Denise nears the end of her cycle

Earlier this year we published Denise’s touching story. After suffering a tragic loss Denise summoned all her strength and determination to undertake an epic cycle challenge in aid of Hospitality Action.

In Denise’s words: “After my husband Paul committed suicide a friend suggested that it may help to have a future focus and so as we often spent Sunday mornings cycling, then perhaps it should involve some sort of cycle challenge; and so the idea of cycling from London to Paris began to take shape.

It was just coincidence that an organised charity London to Paris cycle was to set off on September the 12th 2018, the anniversary of Paul’s death. Being aware that anniversaries can throw up all sorts of unexpected memories and emotions I decided that it may be helpful to have a focus and a slightly daunting physical challenge to preoccupy me on that day. There was never any doubt that for me the charity I chose would have to be pertinent to Paul and his life and so I contacted Hospitality Action and there was no going back.

Five in the morning, London, Wednesday the 12th of September was a dark, wet and gloomy awakening. Myself and two friends met with another seventy three damp but keen cyclists in a drenched London park. We set off enthusiastically through busy London traffic. Suburbia soon gave way to country lanes, however the rain never really went away and being used to quiet Scottish roads, with the occasional car, that gave cyclists a wide berth, the proximity of constant traffic forced me to concentrate. After approximately 95 miles we gathered in a pub in Dover, a swift half Guinness then we cycled en mass to the ferry. After a long and bittersweet day it was lights off and in bed for midnight in Calais.

Seven o’clock start and it was a promising one, patches of blue could be seen overhead. After an initial cold start the day kept on improving as did the scenery. The cycling proved to be undulating with a few technical hitches (my friend experienced two punctures). Lunch was spectacular and was reminiscent of a medieval banquet laid out in a historic monastery that looked like the grandest of chateaus. Our destination day two was Abbeville and as we reached it in good time we celebrated with a verre de vin blanc or two in a local bar named The Royal Bar which just happened to be the same name as a favourite bar in our old home town.

Seven thirty start and after cycling across an atmospheric Somme it was then head down for a series of gruelling climbs. Once again the scenery was idyllic although I became aware that it all must have looked very different once as we passed by many religious statues and war graves. We reached the busy city of Beauvais at what seemed like rush hour and with less than half a mile to go to the hotel I fell at a roundabout, a momentary lapse in concentration while looking down at the sat nav and CRASH down I went while still clipped in, a very kind French lady stopped to ask ‘ca va’ and so my school French kicked in and I replied ‘Ca va bien merci’ , got back on the bike and found the hotel.

Denise and her group celebrate at the Eiffel Tower

Next morning was touch and go as to whether I’d be fit to cycle but after many drugs (supplied by a bona fide GP) and taping of my shoulder I was good, if not fit, to go. Fifty five miles on a bike in pain was pretty tough, however I was buoyed along by a stop at one of Van Gogh’s many houses, lunch in a park in Paris with the most delicious cheese, then cycling around the Arc de Triomphe and the final destination of the Eiffel Tower. The Parisians were fantastically hospitable and then reaching the end despite my fall felt quietly but massively empowering after the year that had went before.

Throughout my travels I was constantly aware of the hospitality and provision of nourishment we received. More than most I am aware of the long hours, hard work and personal sacrifice that is often made by those who provide and serve the food we eat. I am eternally grateful to them for this service, Paul loved his industry and it was to honour him that I cycled these miles to raise money for Hospitality Action.”

We at HA remain indebted to Denise for the great lengths she undertook in our honour. The hours of training and personal sacrifice that the challenge demanded were met head on by this truly inspiring fundraiser and for this we are so very grateful. If you’d like to make a donation to Denise’s fundraising page you can do so here. And of course if you’d like to take part in your own challenge event, for any reason at all, please give me a ring on 020 3004 5504 to learn about the many options available.

 

 

Pulling together to make a difference: Hywel Jones explains why he supports HA

I first became involved with the Hospitality Action Beaufort polo lunch event some eight years ago. Back then the event was half the size it is today and I was joined in the kitchen by Martin Burge and Sam Moody with Michael Croft heading up the kitchen team. Over the years I’ve witnessed the event grow in size, the amount of chefs involved double, but most importantly my understanding of the important work Hospitality Action does has grown significantly.

The 2011 Polo Day chefs

There is no hiding from the fact that the hospitality industry can be a difficult industry to work in but equally it’s a very close knit community which is why I’m sure so many of us feel strongly about helping Hospitality Action to ‘look after our own’.

The 2018 brigade alongside Susan Shore

So for me once again to be a part of this year’s event was an opportunity I jumped at.  This year I was once again joined by Rob Potter from the Manor House Castle Combe, Richard Davies from Calcot Manor, Robby Jenks from The Vineyard at Stockcross, Niall Keating from Whatley Manor and André Garret from Cliveden. We were also joined by Kris Biggs from The Rectory Hotel who although was not with us last year is somewhat a veteran of the event from his time with Martin and Richard Edwards.

The planning started back in January. Rob and André were assigned to starters, Niall and Richard to main course, Robby and I were making the desserts and Kris was preparing the afternoon teas. Our first task was to decide on our ‘common’ ingredient. Basically each group of chefs choose one ingredient that they will both use and build their dishes around that. For this year the ingredients chosen to use were salmon for the starter, lamb for the main course and raspberries for dessert. It’s always interesting to see how different the chef’s creations can be even when using the same ingredients.

Some of the delicious dishes on offer

Once the main menu is agreed we then take care of all the other details such as sourcing ingredients and sponsors, wine pairings, dietary requirements, bread and so on. This is where I begin to realise how lucky I am to be working with these other chefs. For each and every one of them nothing was too much trouble. I know how busy these guys are but anything I asked for one of them would put their hands up. Biggest shout out this year went to Rob who took on the role of making the bread from Niall who did it last year. Come the event, Rob and Mikey his pastry chef stayed up the entire night prior baking the bread, respect due!

On to the weekend itself. Richard and myself went along on the Saturday to begin arranging all the kitchen areas of the marquee. The front of house led by the amazing Sue Shore were already busy arranging and setting up all the tables and front of house areas. Once we had set up and tested all the equipment it was back to our hotels to put the finishing touches to all our food prep in readiness for the big day.

Before the guests arrived

Sunday arrived and by 8am the teams had all started arriving. The weather was once again on our side and there was that sudden moment of realisation that this is it, if we have not thought of it by now it’s too late!

Thankfully though the biggest drama we had was a fryer that we could not get lit. This was no issue for Richard though, he simply jumped in his 911 and sped off to Calcot (within the National speed limit he assured us) to use the fryer there.

From then on the day flew by; first the canapés were served closely followed by the lunch itself. The food these guys produced was outstanding and when you consider that they cooked for 300 guests in basically a big tent in a field it’s even more impressive. It was a pleasure to cook alongside them.

Guests enjoying the hospitality

Finally once the afternoon tea was served there was time to breathe so in true chef’s form the beers were cracked open and the banter started to fly.

It’s a great feeling knowing that you have all worked together as a team towards a common goal and achieved it. I took my eldest son along to help on the day and he said in the car on the way home that it’s the best day he’s ever had in a kitchen.

I asked him why he thought that and he said he liked the way everyone worked together to help each other out. I guess we never really know in life when we will need help but it’s reassuring to know that in our industry if or when we do need help it’s there through Hospitality Action.

This year we raised over £50,000 at the lunch. Being a part of such an event is a very rewarding experience and one I’m very proud of.

Hospitality Action is such an amazing charity with an incredible team driving it forward. The more people that get behind the stronger it will get and this is where we can all lend a hand. If you feel you can help, get in touch with the team and be a part of something special. Give them a call: 020 3004 5504 or email fundraising@hospitalityaction.org.uk to see how you can get involved and improve the lives of others.

 

In Service Through Friendship by Madeline Calon

The Society of the Golden Keys of Great Britain and the Commonwealth  has a long standing relationship with Hospitality Action (HA). We are a friendly association of hotel concierge that has been in existence since 1952, when a group of Head Hall Porters of several leading London Hotels met and agreed to set up an organisation which closely resembled one formed in France called Les Clefs d’Or (The Golden Keys). The first President was Mr Jimmy Stewart (not the actor!) and he served from 1952 until 1956. As the 20th President of the Society I am thrilled to be able to carry on the great work of all those who have gone before me and of course, continue to work closely with HA.

Within the Society we actually mirror some of the services offered by HA. The Welfare Officer is there to support and acknowledge the numerous life changing events of our members and we send flowers, fruit and cards to any member who falls ill, or are housebound. For our retired members we hold an annual lunch, and send them Christmas cards and gifts, and the Welfare Officer telephones and visits as many of our members as is humanly possible. HA offer a similar service via the Golden Friends scheme, and I’m sure it is purely coincidence that their support network is also “Golden”!

The Society has been a keen supporter of HA for decades, long before I became a member of the Golden Keys back in 1996. I have strong memories of previous committee members encouraging us to support HA and I am so proud to be able to continue this tradition. Each year the Society raises funds by taking part in the London 10K run and participating in an Annual Charity Golf tournament. The raffle proceeds from our annual Gala Dinner and Dance are always donated to HA and this year I had the pleasure of presenting a cheque for £9,170 and hope to continue our fundraising for many years to come.

Some of our London 10K team
Taken at our 2018 Golf Day

I would urge everyone to find a way to support HA’s fantastic work, either by fundraising in your own unique style, or by donating your time to telephone past employees who may be feeling lonely. In Service Through Friendship is the motto of The Golden Keys and nothing represents this better than our friendship with HA. If you are part of a hospitality association or society and would like to get involved with the charity please email fundraising@hospitalityaction.org.uk or telephone 020 3004 5504. The relationships you form by doing so could last decades.