Chef Manager of 2019 Interview

Tags: Cateys, chefs, Awards...

Search catch up with the Foodservice Cateys’ 2019 Chef Manager of the Year!

It was with great pride that this year Search became actively involved in the prestigious Foodservice Cateys awards, sponsoring the Chef Manager of the Year’ category.

Since their launch in 2012, the Cateys have become an established and much anticipated celebration of the very best in UK hospitality and catering. The foodservice Cateys showcase innovative brands and trail-blazing people from across hotels, restaurants, foodservice, pubs, and bars.

Lending significance to the winning of a Catey is the fact that recipients are nominated, selected and ultimately rewarded by their contemporaries.

2019 saw Andrea Fawcett of modern cuisine purveyors, Gather & Gather, scoop the much coveted ‘Chef Manager of the Year’ award. Following the event, Search caught up with her…

Congratulations! Before we talk about your award, tell us about your Chef Manager career.

Thank you! I’ve worked in the catering industry for almost 40 years. I started when I was 18 years old on a youth opportunities scheme with Northern Rock Building Society at the Head Office in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne. It was here I gained my chef qualifications on day release and gained experience within their kitchens over a period of 7 years.

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I then went on to running a pub for 6 years in Royal Tunbridge Wells with my husband before returning to the North East to start our family. Once back up north, I worked in local schools, which helped with holidays and term times with the children and gave me a different perspective of food, healthier eating, and nutrition.

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In 2015, I joined Renolit at their manufacturing site in Cramlington as Chef Manager with Gather & Gather.

Can you tell us a little about being a Chef Manager at Gather & Gather?

Gather & Gather is headed by Alister Richardson. He’s a very inspirational leader and his vision trickles down, even to small units like mine. My regional manager, Jackie Armstrong, is always getting me out of our unit to see others, and it sparks ideas that we feel will work for a small factory in the North; healthy, nutritional and mouth-watering cuisine. We also try to improve customers’ habits and lifestyles using Gather & Gather monthly marketing and promotion materials to assist in promoting my ideas.

Renolit works on shift patterns and our customers mostly like familiarity with their daily food choices. Around three quarters of the workforce prefer a traditional cuisine whilst the remaining quarter are a little more adventurous, so it can be quite challenging getting the balance just right.

So, onto the award, what are your thoughts on winning Chef Manager of the Year?

I was quite shocked, overwhelmed and so proud to be given the award. Our small factory of 300 people in the North gaining such recognition, wow!

What was the key to you winning the award, and what has been the response?

I’ve been working with the Client and Welfare Team to gain the silver accreditation in Employee Welfare having already achieved bronze. As Chef Manager I try to engage with customers and clients to provide healthier and more nutritional choices and work with Gather & Gather Nutritionals in designing the ‘Live Well’ policy.

Customers, clients and work colleagues have been so excited and pleased for me when previously I’ve been a runner up. Having now won the award, the response has been great. “Well deserved!” one customer told me. Wow, fame is lovely!

How big a team do you work with? 

I have a team of three working alongside me who are focused on providing assistance in guiding our customers towards healthier alternatives to help maintain their energy levels for a productive workday.

What do you love most about the Hospitality and Catering industry?

The colleagues I work with closely and who inspire me every day.

And finally, what’s one big piece of advice you’d give to someone entering the industry?

Go with your gut, allow yourself to be inspired and communicate with your customers would be my main tips.

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