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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Our stories

Which pub and restaurant job is right for me? 

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Company update

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Blog

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8/10/2020

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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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The inside scoop: what it's like to be back working in a pub after Covid-19

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Bar and Waiting

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Blog

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7/15/2020

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It’s been just over three months since the doors of our pubs, restaurants and bars closed and our teams hung up their chef whites and poured their last pints.  The moment our government announced that we could reopen, the M&B family got busy preparing our pubs and restaurants so we were ready to safely welcome our guests again. We spoke to Casey who works as waiting staff at one of our businesses to find out what her time away from the pub has been like and how she feels after her first week back to work. Here’s the inside scoop: What role do you do and how long have you been with M&B? For the last three years, I’ve worked for M&B as a Team Member at the Plough in Harrow, which is one of our Premium Country Pubs. The flexibility of this job has allowed me to gain some great experience in the hospitality industry whilst studying for my degree at university. What did you miss most while away from work?Just being productive, admittedly I fell into a bit of a rut during the lockdown and felt like I would accomplish nothing with my days, there are only so many zoom quizzes and Netflix series you can watch. Being back at work, back with my team and seeing the regulars has really helped me to mentally get out of that rut and get back to my old self.How did you feel coming back to work?At first, I was nervous and quite anxious at the idea of coming back to my restaurant job, but once I was made aware of the new procedures that have been put in place and I saw them in action I was instantly eased. M&B has been really supportive throughout the lockdown, sharing regular updates on what’s happening within the business and giving us all the information we need on new procedures to make the return to work as seamless as possible.What was the first order you took when your pub reopened? It was a table of two of our regulars who shared that they couldn’t wait to come back to see us. They ordered a Dirty Burger with added halloumi and 7oz Fillet Steak, medium with beef dripping sauce and a side of onion rings. Our regulars probably know the menu as well as we do and know how to put together a mouth-watering meal.What has it been like working in a pub since they reopened?I thought I would have forgotten how to do everything, having been away from my waiting job for such a long time, but once I stepped back into the pub everything came flooding back. It has been so nice to be reunited with the team and the transition has been much easier than I thought it would be. Every single guest has been lovely and really understanding which has made us even happier to be back. What has been changed in your pub post lockdown?There has been a lot to learn and get to grips with since we have reopened our Premium Country Pubs, but I’m grateful that these new measures are in place because it makes the pub feel like a safe place to work. The changes have been carefully planned so that you still get that warm and inviting pub feel and we have had lots of positive feedback from our guests which has been lovely!A couple of the main changes are…We ask all our guests to sanitise their hands when they arrive, and we explain the new safety measures to them.We do more detailed cleaning throughout the day for example, after each guest leaves we clean all table surfaces, table legs, chairs and chair legs before the next guests are seated.All our menus are now paper disposal ones, they are thrown away after our guests have used them.There is social distancing throughout the pub – our table layout has been changed to ensure our tables are at a safe social distance and there are social distancing signs around the pub to remind everybody of the new measures.How do you feel after your first week back and what’s been your favourite part?It’s really good to be back, the pub feels really safe and our guests are happy. It’s almost like there wasn’t a 3-month break (although my feet are adjusting more slowly to the new routine)! Being reunited with the team and welcoming our regulars back to the pub has easily been the best part of coming back to the work. We’ve kept in touch virtually as a team during the lockdown, but nothing beats seeing each other face to face.Find out more about #lifeatmabWe’re over the moon to have welcomed Casey back but the since the safety of our guests and staff is our number one priority we’re making sure that any changes made are in line with government guidelines. It’s the hard work of Casey and the rest of the team that has helped us provide a brilliant service for our guests, where everyone is safe, comfortable and reunited with their perfectly cooked 7oz Fillet Steak. Want to join the M&B family? Explore our bar jobs or find your perfect opportunity by searching our head chef jobs.

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It’s been just over three months since the doors of our pubs, restaurants and bars closed and our teams hung up their chef whites and poured their last pints. Here's Casey's story about what her first week back has been like.

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