3 Chefs in a kitchen

What it’s like to have one of the tastiest jobs in the business

Jess Birch our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 07 January 2020
 
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Senior Food Development Manager, Daniel Wilkes, reveals what it’s like to have one of the tastiest jobs in the business. In every kitchen across our 1,700 pubs and restaurants, our chefs serve up delicious dishes daily - with a little help from our Food Development Team. It may be behind the scenes but it’s one of the tastiest jobs in our business!

 
 
 


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Working in this team means you have to know your onions from your shallots! The team work behind the scenes to ensure that the product sourcing, training and supply chain behind the operation means that the dishes they have dreamed up, then get delivered to happy guests in our pubs and restaurants across the country.

Daniel Wilkes, Senior Food Development Manager at Mitchells & Butlers, explains the process of making sure a dish is perfected before it makes it to a customer’s plate. “The team and I tend to work on a brief for a particular topic such as a summer menu for one of three brands that I work on; Toby Carvery, Harvester and Stonehouse Pizza & Carvery. Upon receiving the brief, we then work up a proposal and prepare initial ideas for the menu, with costings.”

Once that is completed, the team then spends time cooking, developing and refining these dishes, so they can be presented to the brand teams in a variety of food shows to gather feedback. Daniel explains that the dishes they create are often unique to the individual brand, “Working in our Food Team, we make sure that the dishes that get developed by our Development Chefs, reflect the brand, kitchen facilities and food skill levels of the team who will be serving up the dishes to our guests. I think it is really important to create unique dishes for our brands that you can’t get anywhere else, from the jerk ribs in Harvester to the miso rice bowl in All Bar One. Dishes like these showcase the chef’s skill and flair and can often become iconic dishes with our guests and teams.”

In addition to developing the menu items, the team looks for ways to tap into the latest dining and consumer trends and looking at ways to adopt them for each brand. “We regularly research trends and gather inspiration from all over, to try and understand the appropriate time for a flavour, trend or dish to land in our market.”

Daniel’s job involves constantly tweaking and improving dishes and subtly evolving each brand to keep pace with trends, but when a brand needs a complete refresh, Daniel and his team play a major part. “One of the most exciting projects I worked on recently was ‘Harvester 2020’. Our team worked tirelessly for a year, looking at every aspect of the dining experience starting with the menu, even researching bespoke crockery, glassware and uniforms. We worked together with the Harvester Team to build something really special that has moved the brand on tremendously.” Although not one to pick favourites, Daniel explains that he is very proud of one particular development, “I’m really proud of our new extensive ribs section that is on our main menu. We showcase regular ribs, large racks, 1kg smoked racks, half kilo beef ribs and my favourite, the jerk spiced ribs with spiced rum BBQ sauce!”

For Daniel, there is no better feeling than creating dishes that go on to become successful that chefs enjoy cooking and guests enjoy eating. However, it’s not just the Food Development Team that are at the steering wheel of the menus at Mitchells and Butlers, as we regularly host ‘takeover days’ for each of the pubs and restaurants, where our Retail Support Team can also have their say on the dishes they will be serving up to their guests.

And spending his work hours surrounded by food hasn’t put him off, in fact Daniel often experiences his dishes as a guest by visiting his local Stonehouse to treat his family to a pizza and sometimes may even indulge in his guilty pleasure - a midweek Toby Carvery roast!


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Chef Tom's top 6 recipes that you can whip up during lockdown

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Cooking can be that part of the day when you steal a little bit of ‘you time’. And to help you find your inner culinary master we spoke to Tom, Kitchen Skills Trainer at Nicholson’s. Tom decided to start a YouTube channel during the first lockdown to share some of his favourite recipes with our teams and keep spirits high. Tom started his chef career in 2006, before joining us as a Kitchen Manager at All Bar One six years ago. During this time he’s worked in various roles and has had the opportunity to work across 10 of the 13 different brands at M&B. He’s shared his top 6 recipes that you can whip up at home and the great news is that you don’t need to have worked in a chef job for years to make these meals a success.Chilli con carneWe’ve got to spill the beans on this one – that’s right, time to get cooking with kidney beans.This one is a classic and when it’s done right it’s the ultimate comfort food dinner. The best part about a chilli con carne is that you’ll only need one pan so you’re not left with a sink full of washing up. FajitasHere’s another recipe to spice things up a little. Fajitas are one of the easiest meals to whip up and when made with fresh ingredients it’s really cheap too. If you’re feeling fancy and want to make your seasoning from scratch it actually only takes a minute. But if your spice rack is still at a novice stage then you can pick up a pack of seasoning and you’ve got all the flavoured mixed up for you. This one’s proof that you don’t have to have a kitchen career behind you to serve up dishes packed with flavour. Stir FryWe’re taking you to another corner of the globe with one of the quickest and tastiest dishes – the stir fry. For your protein, you can pick between chicken, beef or tofu and as for the veg here’s your chance to get in as many as possible. Choose from peppers, mushrooms, sugar snap peas, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli and baby corn. And you know that famous phrase – wok hard, play hard. Flattened fillet steakNow you’re looking to impress with your cooking skills you’ll want a recipe that is easy to follow but will show that you know your way around a kitchen - enter the flattened fillet steak. Chef Tom serves his up with a rocket and parmesan salad and his top tip is to open the steak from the vacuumed packet around 20-30 minutes before cooking to let the meat breathe. You’ll be grilled with happiness after this meal! Pitta bread pizzaChef jobs teach you how to make a lot from a little and that definitely true with this recipe. All you need is to grill your pita bread, make a quick tomato base and top it with your favourites foods and any leftovers. Five minutes under the grill and they are good to go. With no dough to roll out, you could say this recipe isn’t kneady at all. Spiced roasted butternut squashLooking for a warm and hearty dish? This soup is rich, creamy and packed full of goodness. And any head chef worth their salt would know that it’s got to be served it up with a side of crusty bread. Whichever is your bread of choice – sourdough, ciabatta or a classic roll - just make sure you soak up every last drop of this super soup. Got a taste for more…These are some of our favourite recipes from Tom’s Teas YouTube channel and they’re definitely a feast for the eyes and the stomach. Perhaps you’re just discovering your passion for cooking and want some easy but delicious recipes. In that case, why not feed that curiosity and find out whether you could be a chef.

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Tom, Kitchen Skills Trainer at Nicholson's, has shared his top 6 recipes that you can whip up at home during lockdown. Take a look at them here:

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Which pub and restaurant job is right for me? 

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When you think of a pub and restaurant job you probably first imagine a chef in their white hat – or toque if we’re being fancy. But of course, there are also the waiters and waitresses, bar staff and general managers who are delivering excellent customer service whilst busying themselves behind the scenes too.To help you decide which restaurant job is right for you we’ve put together the different ingredients for success you’ll need for each role. Read on to discover which exciting career you could carve out for yourself:Kitchen assistantA kitchen assistant’s role boils down to food prep and keeping serving areas clean and safe. Sounds straightforward but the day-to-day tasks will change often enough to keep you on your toes. Whether you find yourself working in a trendy city bar like All Bar One, a well-loved Toby Carvery or a restaurant like Miller & Carter, known for their signature ‘steak experience’, a typical day as a kitchen assistant may also involve taking deliveries and organising the stock room.In this support role, you’ll pick up tips and tricks from chefs who’ve been in the business most of their lives so it’s a great stepping stone to work your way up to more senior restaurant jobs. With little culinary experience needed, a kitchen assistant job is a great chance to learn the ropes and feed off the atmosphere behind the scenes of a restaurant.If you’re a good team player, can listen and follow instructions carefully and have a passion for food then a kitchen assistant job could be just right for you.Head chefWith some years of experience under your belt where you’ve proven that you not only know your way around the kitchen but shown have strong leadership skills, you’re ready to climb to the next spot on the chef’s career ladder. The main responsibilities of a head chef job are to oversee the daily operations of the kitchen and lead your team to thrive in any situation.Most chefs learn on the job, so formal qualifications aren’t always needed to show you can stand the heat in the kitchen, but they do strengthen expertise and can help you climb the ranks faster. Instead, a strong skill-set is much more important if you want to prove yourself as a head chef – with leadership and delegation being the most essential. Aside from this, you’ll need excellent culinary skills, a good knowledge of produce and top-notch time management.The Office of National Statistics revealed in 2017 that women only accounted for 17% of head chef jobs and we’re working hard to tip this scale. This is why at M&B we’re proud to promote that hospitality is not just a man’s business.Waiting staffAs a waiting staff, it’s ultimately your job to keep guests happy, but there’s a lot more to it than that. In this customer service role you’ll pick up crystal clear communication skills and learn how to handle any crisis like a pro. These are just a few of the 5 transferrable skills you learn in a waiting staff job.If you love going the extra mile for customers, thrive in a fast-paced environment or want to build your self-confidence then a waiting staff job could be a great career move for you. But in case you’re still undecided read our 10 stories that every waiting team understands.Bar staffIf you’re someone who is passionate about customer service and building relationships then look no further than a bar staff job. Small talk with the customers is just as much a part of the job as pouring the pints and shaking the cocktails. Plus, the different people who walk through the door each day are a chance for you to really mix things up.Like those in most restaurant jobs, bar staff are experts are multitasking. While keeping up the conversation you’ll need to remember the customer’s order, keep tabs on who’s next and make sure the bar is stocked up. A bar staff job can be challenging at times but it’s one of the most fun and lively jobs to develop your resilience and organisation skills.Hear from some of M&B’s very own employees what’s the best thing about being part of a bar team.General managerDid you know that 9 in 10 general managers working in a restaurant joined the industry in an entry-level role? Climbing the career ladder gives a deep insight into the workings of a restaurant, something which can be hard to understand without experience in the industry.General managers in restaurants are responsible for keeping a lid on everything. On the surface, a general manager’s role is to bring the team together while ensuring quality control and customer satisfaction. Behind the scenes, you’ll be responsible for recruiting new team members, overseeing their training, organising deliveries, being aware of new and changing regulations, budget control and keeping your team safe by enforcing high health and safety standards.For some, a general manager role is the ultimate restaurant job because their team feels like a second family. You’re in charge of keeping team morale high but it’s also your duty to watch over everyone’s safety, meaning this job can bring you a great sense of pride and satisfaction.Learn more about a career in the restaurant and pub industryAt Mitchells and Butlers, a restaurant job is more than just a job – it’s a career. It’s our goal to find talented and enthusiastic people who want to grow with our brand and share in our values. Whichever pub and restaurant job you choose we’ll make sure you feel a valued member of the team and get recognised for what you do.Find out more about the rewarding careers we can offer you at Mitchells and Butlers by browsing our kitchen jobs here or explore our other roles.

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To help you decide which restaurant job is right for you we’ve put together the different ingredients for success you’ll need for each role

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