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  • Writer's pictureBeth Jones

Random thoughts from a bored chef

Running a catering business is a pretty full-on operation: exciting and creative, unbelievably hard slog at times, regulations and inspections, wonderful staff and not so wonderful staffing issues, cash flow problems and the final satisfaction of seeing all our hard work swallowed up by satisfied customers. And that’s what makes me get up in the morning: the chance to meet new people like you, find out what you want and do whatever it takes to make sure your wishes are not just granted, but exceeded. I love blowing minds.

I’d say we get it right 99% of the time and the 1% is always something to learn from.

So, just at the moment, I miss all of the above more than I expected and have a lot of time on my hands (not to mention a fair amount of food from cancelled orders). But I don’t want to lose touch with you, my customers and friends, so this is the first of a new series of blogs which will let you know what I am up to, keep you in touch with plans for the future, offer food advice and tips and point you in the direction of articles I think you’ll find interesting.

Yes, of course, it is marketing of a sort and yes, I am trying to stay in business through a difficult period for us all, but it can be fun, helpful and informative at the same time. So, I’ll try to keep the sales pitch low and the interest level high and you can give me feedback to help me stay on the straight and narrow. I found this useful article on weddings and Coronavirus

So, away we go. My name is Beth Jones and I am managing director (or chief cook and bottle washer, if you prefer) of Tandem Catering (Sevenoaks). I haven’t always been a cook. In fact, a cook is only a relatively recent incarnation for me. Most of my life I worked for large multi-national IT corporations. So, I am fluent in management speak (as well, incidentally as Greek, a story for later, and a smattering of German acquired as a life saving measure during a snowed-up winter in Austria, another story for later). But it was learning management speak that wore me down.

At the end of the day I decided to do some blue sky thinking and give myself a heads up about burn-out. I drilled down into a few options, moved a few goalposts, looking for a win-win situation as far as my career was concerned. It wasn’t rocket science: leave or go mad.

So, I left, invested in a cordon blue chef course at a top independent college and bingo, here I am, cleansed of all crazy business jargon and up to my elbows in cookery metaphors. I discovered, as I converted a small business into a bigger one, that you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. Later, as I experimented with recipes, I discovered, of course, that the proof of the pudding is whether it gets eaten. I could go on, but your groans are audible. Enough is as good as a ………STOP!

And, as I hope you can tell, I love my new life, (most of the time, anyway) and have discovered a passion for the work I do that was hard to summon for the latest IT product and the next round of business meetings. I can tell you from experience that world travel on a business schedule is at around level six in the seven circles of hell. Circle seven, of course, is taking part in the business meeting you travelled so far to lead.

But now, the worst that can happen is a power cut affecting all the ovens in the kitchen just as the wedding party of 200 guests starts to arrive, with your head chef stranded on the M25. It happened, but it is another story …

Also Grace Dent did a very funny article in the Guardian, here's the link.

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