Blurred background of a restaurant

James’ recipe for cooking up a progressive kitchen career

James’ recipe for cooking up a progressive kitchen career

Emily Smith our consultant managing the role
Date posted: 03/02/2022

We recently heard from James Chilongo, an Accredited Kitchen Manager, who told us about his amazing career journey with M&B – his words! When asked why he wanted to join us, James said that he felt we had the best opportunities for progression and job security, and that over the years its proven to be true.

Having started with us in 2007, James gradually worked his way up the ranks, working for four different M&B brands: Nicholson’s, Oak Tree, Sizzling Pubs and most recently High Street pubs. Career progression is just one of many benefits we offer at M&B, because we value our people and encourage them to develop their skills, or even try new opportunities if they want to.

Tell us about your career journey with M&B

‘I joined as a chef and by the end of 2008, I was made Kitchen Lead. Then in 2010 I was part of a cohort of Kitchen Leads who were promoted to Kitchen Manager positions. It felt so rewarding that my hard work was recognised!

In 2012, I was one of 12 Kitchen Managers to be nominated to help Retail Business Managers (RBMs) and their districts as Accredited Kitchen Managers (AKMs), a role I’ve been in until recently when I was promoted to Kitchen Investment Trainer, starting January 2022.’

How have you been supported throughout the development of your kitchen career?

‘I’ve worked with great RBM, Kitchen Skills Trainers, and Pub Managers, who have all been kind, supportive and helpful with my career development and progression. Darren, my current RBM, and Mark, my current Kitchen Skills trainer, have really helped me believe in myself, giving me the confidence to train and support other chefs.

During my career, M&B have supported me through fantastic training MABLE programs which have really helped. Additionally, in 2019, I become the first employee at M&B to qualify and be awarded the Departmental Operational Manager Diploma Level 5 through Lifetime Apprenticeships.’

With a blend of determination, hard work, and making the most of the wide range of opportunities we have on offer, James’ kitchen career at M&B has flourished. And remember, Apprenticeships aren’t just for school leavers; at M&B we believe it’s never too late to start learning!

What are some key traits needed to progress a kitchen career?

James shared his top 5 ingredients to successfully progress your kitchen career, and they are spot on:

1. Work hard

2. Know what you want; have a plan

3. Stay focused, positive, and determined. Even though some days may be tough, stick to it

4. Seek help and support. Don't be afraid to fail, ask for feedback, live the M&B values

5. Have self-awareness. Use different leadership styles, work on your communication and negotiation skills, be tough when you need to, and be gentle as everyone is different.

At M&B, it’s our culture that makes work so worthwhile, so in our kitchens and across our whole business, we like to be considerate of all our teams and their feelings. We’re a big family, striving to be a more inclusive employer, and we’re making progress, but we’ve got a long way to go.

What is the best thing about working as part of a kitchen team?

‘The best part is working as a team; we work hard, but we laugh and joke a lot. Over the years I have made fantastic working relationships with teammates, and we have ended having great friendship outside of the kitchen.’

The sense of solidarity that comes with working in hospitality is unrivalled in any other sector, which is why we celebrate working with our besties as so many of our teams end up as life-long friends.

Do you have any advice for someone thinking of bringing their kitchen career to M&B?

‘Be yourself, enjoy the job, set out a clear career path, and stay focused in order to get to where you want to be. M&B reward hard working individuals, and I am an example of it.’

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves!

A recipe for success at M&B

At M&B, we like to reward our hardworking staff with the career progress they desire, and we encourage them to gain experience in a variety of areas to build their skillset.

We’re creating opportunities for anyone, from any background, with any level of experience, who is willing to work hard and get stuck in. If you’ve been inspired by James’ story and you’re looking for your next challenge, take a look at our available kitchen jobs today.

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