A Meeting of Culinary Masterminds

When recently invited to a ‘Meeting of Culinary Masterminds’ lunch at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, I almost fell over – me? Seriously?   But then I thought about it and actually, having been a chef for over 30 years and having run my own business for over 20 years, maybe I do fall into that category.  Whether or not I really do qualify I didn’t mind, I quickly accepted my invitation and was very much looking forward to being on the other side of the hospitality counter!

The day arrived and the first thing I must admit – I hadn’t realised how far away Tottenham is!  It took well over an hour in a speeding Uber!  I arrived in the nick of time and was welcomed to one of the private dining boxes which was very much a ring side view of the stadium, it was easy to imagine how supporters would feel on a match day!

As for the hospitality, it was out of this world….. dare I say Premier League! It was good to feel that I was experiencing something truly incredible as often at events, it does fall a little short of expectation.

I was a guest of Syft, a platform from which we book additional chefs in our kitchen.  The good thing about the chefs from Syft is that it is entirely transparent.  I can set the hourly rate I am prepared to pay for the chef and then pay a % as a fee.  It’s all very clear and easy to use, and on an app which I am in control of.  I admit that I am not the most techie person and when I have trouble, their team are on hand to sort out my difficulties – well Sergio is anyway (sorry Sergio for names dropping you!).

Anyway, back to Tottenham FC….

This is a serious operation going on and the more we were shown around this enormous space the more it dawned on us how much goes into the day to day running of the stadium – its not all burgers and pies on match days but when it is, they have their own true to life Wallis and Gromit pie making kit, own bakery, a pastry department to die for, walk in fridges and freezers which one could get lost in, as well as the brewery, chicken ‘shop’, concessions on many levels, and quite possibly the tidiest delivery bay I have ever seen #OCD!

So, with all of that out of the way, it was the serious business of bringing the Culinary Masterminds together to hold discussions about the industry.  Now bearing in mind that my SME was probably the smallest in the room and maybe the only 100% independent, I was seriously dumb struck with the company I was keeping….from MD’s in the biggest catering outlets in the country, to Hotel chains, to a pretty phenomenal restaurant who are currently looking for their next site.  I felt at first that my business was so small, why would I be invited to something this great, but it soon became apparent that no matter the size of business, our business is incredibly important to Syft who work hard to ensure their chefs are reliable, trained and punctual.  They really do care and understand the importance of the right person in the right job rather than just any person in any job!

Topics under discussion ranged from Big Bad Brexit through to Rising Rents and how that impacts us all.  Everything in between was of huge interest and the conversation was intense, educational and totally inspiring from start to finish.  (I will be totally honest and say I don’t actually think I could say a word as I was still overwhelmed by the company but I totally and throughly enjoyed the time) and not only that but also some of London’s (is Tottenham even in London?) best bowl food that I have ever tasted!

I must say a huge thank you to Syft and a huge thank you to Mark Reynolds and his team of talented chefs for an exceptional, and very inspiring day.