Let's hear it for unsung heroes
I read week in, week out about marvellous chefs, sommeliers, managers and the like. But I would like to air views on one of the great unsung heroes of the catering industry - the kitchen porter.
A good, reliable kitchen porter is worth his or her weight in gold, but is often looked upon as just a pot-washer. Kitchen porters are without doubt an integral part of any professional kitchen.
Catering's alarming rate of staff turnover means that little emphasis is placed on the lowly kitchen porter - poor rates of pay and long hours don't make an ideal marriage.
But if you are fortunate to chance upon a kitchen porter as great as our Ian "Godly" Hoyle, half your kitchen troubles would be over.
An unstinting work rate, bizarre humour, awful singing, horrendous puns and fantastically spotless kitchen all go towards making life in this demanding industry more efficient and fun.
There are a lot of awards in this industry, but perhaps there is room for another one for kitchen porters.
Browns Wine Bar and Restaurant, Ilkley, West Yorkshire.
Forte does offer graduate futures
In response to the letter criticising Forte at Opportunities '96 ("Standing Alone on Graduate Posts?" 17 October) we would like to apologise if the individual concerned was given this impression.
Forte/Granada certainly is an exciting, changing company, and although Forte has not operated a corporate postgraduate scheme for a number of years, we most certainly have employed a large number of graduates, direct into supervisory and junior management positions.
We are presently reviewing our position with regard to a structured scheme in preparation for the end of this academic year.
Any graduates that are interested in opportunities within Forte are invited to contact Forte Futures, 12 Sherwood St, London W1H 1GH.
Human Resources Director,
Forte London Hotels, London W1H.
Beware of the dreaded 'r' word
I read with interest James Tucker's advice about CVs.
As a practising executive search consultant, the very last thing I would advise anyone to do is reveal in a CV or letter that they have been made redundant.
There is no shame in redundancy, but however much one might wish it otherwise, some employers still view it as a powerful negative.
By all means discuss your redundancy at interview, but don't mention the "R" word before then or you'll discover that 99% of employers won't see you.
A tribute to enda flanagan
I would like to add a few words to the obituary to chef Enda Flanagan (People, 24 October).
Enda's sudden death has deeply affected many people in London and Ireland, not merely because he was a fine chef, but because he had exceptional personal gifts and warmed and improved the lives of all he touched.
He inspired intense affection, respect and loyalty in those among whom he lived and worked, and his sunny nature, good humour, steadiness and kindness were a friend's pleasure and an employer's dream.
In his short career he had progressed through some of London's leading restaurants: Langan's, Le Pont de la Tour, Mezzo and each of my places.
He was head chef at the Bistro before moving to the Avenue as head chef, and had limitless prospects before him.
He had a marvellously light touch in the kitchen, and was as happy cooking for 75 at Michelin-starred standard as he was for 300.
This success didn't change him; he was always someone comfortable with himself and the life he had been dealt, and if he was to excel at the profession he enjoyed so much, then that would make every day even more fun.
He enjoyed life to the full, never happier than when eating and drinking well, preferably with attractive female company, and, if he could have combined this with watching Liverpool play football, life would have been perfect.
As it was, he had recently been home to watch Wexford win the County League Hurling Championship - he was once a pretty good player himself - and he was on top of the world.
It seems that half of London's restaurant staff, not to mention the population of Wexford, saw him buried at Castlebridge. As Enda takes his place behind the heavenly stoves, let's hope that St Peter can make sure it's Enda's risotto served at the Almighty's table.
Stephen Bull Restaurant,
The guide is glossy, but it works
AS an ex-marketing manager of Johansens, who spent six enjoyable years with the company, I was most interested to read Ian Guthrie's article about "the guide which breaks all the rules" (Viewpoint, 3 October).
These days I have no vested interest in the publication, but would like to offer the following observations as why the unconventional Johansens guides have been successful.
The praise Mr Guthrie heaps on Johansens is well deserved and long overdue. But it is a mistake to assume that a glossy, coffee-table guidebook cannot work.
Does anyone seriously believe that people drive around the country in their cars using a pocket-sized guide, not having planned their journey, with no idea of where they might end up staying? A fanciful notion, I think.
Johansens travellers sit at home in the comfort of their armchairs or their offices, drooling over the superb colour photography and planning their next great escape or business trip before making a direct reservation. The guide is both aspirational and inspirational.
Johansens has succeeded because it has quality standards. These are interpreted by the inspectors individually. They do not arrive at an establishment and stay incognito and they do not work from a check list.
The public has been brainwashed into believing that for an establishment to be a top hotel it must display five AA/RAC stars outside. Some of the places in Johansens guides have no stars at all, yet they are excellent.
The fact that hotels pay to appear in Johansens does not compromise the editor's integrity. Properties not coming up to scratch are filtered out and their orders cancelled.
Scotland willing to include all
So Tricon Foodservice Consultants claims it could have found sponsorship for Britain's Culinary Olympic Team (Letters, 26 September).
Tony Jackson did a marvellous job raising sponsorship for Scotland and leading the team to gold.
I would imagine that to throw money at team of "amateurs bogged down with politics", as Robert Payne described the national team, would have achieved nothing but huge embarrassment.
Scotland is on the march toward national status, with a stable, professional, highly skilled and motivated team. And with perhaps £250,000 in sponsorship on the cards between now and the Culinary Olympics in 2000, we will gain more golds and the exposure expected of our sponsors.
If Mr Payne thinks he can help then he is welcome aboard, for the Federation of Chefs Scotland motto reads: inclusion not exclusion.
Marketing and Sponsorship,
Federation of Chefs Scotland, Balerno, Edinburgh.
High street banks avoid the industry
Hugh Caven is absolutely right when he says that the commercial finance broker is playing a bigger part in arranging finance for hotel purchases.
This is acknowledged in my book - How to Buy Your Own Hotel - where I write: "Increasingly in recent years, the raising of finance has become a service undertaken by independent mortgage brokers who specialise in the hotel and catering industry.
"At the same time as the high street clearing banks have withdrawn from lending into the industry, some commercial banks have emerged who understand hotelkeeping and catering because they specialise in it and are prepared to lend into it."
The extract of my book in Caterer (3 October) was necessarily abbreviated and may not have given the full picture which appears in the book.
Even so, as in Howard Williams's case, the clearing bank is usually the would-be hotelier's first port of call. The book makes plain that many of these banks still view the industry with a high degree of caution.
Wordsmith and Company,