On Tuesday 16 October Andre Garrett and I decided to go and visit Bubbledogs on Charlotte Street to see what the fuss was all about.

We found the place heaving and were greeted to a full tour and wonderfully warm hospitality. We had hot dogs and champagne (that is almost all there is to order but for the amazing chef’s table menu). Bubbledogs was fun, friendly while being also so “old school” in its approach to service. As we left I noticed that two women who were in the queue behind us just sat down for their hotdogs – they had waited 75 minutes for our warm seats!

Bubbledogs was more than just a restaurant experience. It is a symbol of the contrast between the creativity and excitement of the UK restaurant scene with the overall bad reputation and perception the whole Hospitality industry still suffers from after all these years…

I arrived in London back in 1992-It’s 2012 now. Despite an incredible growth the hospitality industry has a reputation as bad as it ever was, young people do not join our industry, every industry professional complains about the skills and staff shortage while the generational gap between young people and employers is wider than it ever was.

We must take collective and personal responsibility for the necessary changes that need to take place: below is my five-point plan to drive change:

  • National marketing and PR campaign to both promote and position the hospitality industry as a rewarding career choice-The campaign needs to be creative, fun, strategic, positive, consistent and well timed. It should be sustained over a long period of time (2 to 5 years) to reach out in every home and living room of this country and by any means available (TV, internet, social media, radio, newspapers, magazines etc…).
  • The qualification system and the qualifications themselves should be reviewed and streamlined. There are too many awarding bodies and too many worthless qualifications. The qualifications available should be relevant and adapted to the current market, they should also be respected and recognised by industry leaders and professionals of all levels, education professionals, students and their parents (within UK and also outside the UK) as well as career advisors.
  • An independent body made of industry and education professionals should be set up to inspect and rate the provision for education in all catering and hospitality colleges. The independent body should also be given special powers to monitor and enforce its recommendations are followed.
  • (WE) the industry professionals really needs to set our difference aside, come together and be unified behind a clear vision, set of values and objectives. It is the only way to start building our future today.
  • The Government needs to be lobbied and understand that the hospitality industry needs funding to run good schools and good qualifications. The latest cut in September 2012 means that full time hospitality training funding will be cut by 105 hours. Therefore hospitality courses will no longer have sufficient funds to run the Professional Chef programme alongside a Food & Beverage Service programme.

Make excellence a habit!