Looking for a kitchen career? Putting on the chef whites with Mitchells & Butlers offers plenty of opportunities to climb the career ladder and work with a great bunch of likeminded people. Simon Whitfield, Accredited Kitchen Manager, is celebrating 30 years of service with Mitchells & Butlers, so we decided to catch up with him to find out more about his career journey and hear his top tips for a career in hospitality.
When did you join Mitchells & Butlers and why did you join?
I think it was 13th August 1989 when I started at Mitchells & Butlers. I joined straight out of school. I was not very academic and wasn’t much for the classroom, so the on the job training really appealed to me.
How does it feel to reach 30 years of service?
Old! But seriously, I feel very proud of the fact I have achieved this. Originally It was my intention to only stay for a couple of years while I trained. But honestly, I really don’t know where the time has gone. It feels like yesterday was my first day.
Tell us a little bit about your career journey.
I started out training to be a Grill Chef and learned the basics of running the kitchen. After I learned the ropes, I was promoted to be a Second Chef and a few years later I moved into the Head Chef role. During this time, I branched out and learned how to run the bar and restaurant so that I could work in every department. I then progressed into the Assistant Manager role, and it was during this time I started working in different businesses, gaining valuable experience.
After a few years of working in different businesses, I decided I wanted to settle in one business. So, when the Kitchen Manager job was available at Toby Carvery Festival Park I came back and have been working with the team since 2005. Since then, I made the jump to become an Accredited Kitchen Manager.
What has been your favourite moment over the last 30 years?
There have been so many but meeting my partner and the mother to our 2-year-old son was the best. Also, I’ve made so many lifetime friends over the years.
What is it about Mitchells & Butlers that has made you want to stay for 30 years?
For me, the people have been the most important thing. The guys I have worked with over the years have become family really. Lifetime friends that support you through thick and thin, the good times and the bad. Because of them sometimes it didn’t even feel like work, it’s more of a hobby you get paid for.
Also, the company stability. I have never been out of work, worried about money and the job has paid for me to travel the world with my mates. It’s paid for my home and the life me and my family have today.
What’s your favourite part of your role now?
The variety of being an Accredited Kitchen Manager is great. I’ve been able to get involved in so many different parts of the company, whether that’s helping other restaurants, training the next generation of Kitchen Managers, or working with Alison Bradbury, Head of People, on Kitchen retention in Toby Carvery. I’ve even been able to help pilot for new menus.
What would be your advice for someone looking to pursue a kitchen career?
Be prepared to work hard. If you pick a kitchen role then don’t accept second best. Be a team player and most importantly look after your team and they will look after you. Some of my best team members have been with me for 15 years.
To find out more about kitchen opportunities at Mitchells & Butlers, head over to our pub & restaurant page.