As part of Springboard’s KP Day activities we teamed up with The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill hotel, and treated some budding young job seekers to a behind-the-scenes look at a five star hotel.
The wonderful Rebecca Lexa was kind enough to take time out of her day to show us around and share her inspirational insights into the hospitality industry. Rebecca talked to our candidates about the amazing benefits of working for a hotel like the Hyatt: “It’s great if you love travelling. Our staff can choose from over 600 Hyatt hotels around the world to enjoy 12 days holiday for free!” – a benefit afforded to all staff, from KPs to Executive Chefs and Bar Backs to General Managers. We also got to see the staff canteen where all hotel staff get free food in a lovely setting.
Before we headed to the kitchens to meet the KPs and chefs we were given a grand tour of the hotel. On the way through the luxurious bars, enticing restaurants and VIP areas we met Luca, a bartender who began his hospitality career in the kitchen. Luca was a great example of how starting off in an entry level position in a kitchen can lead to exciting opportunities and careers – like being a mixologist in one of London’s top hotels! He told us that “Working in the kitchen is hard work so you need patience” and that you must “be strong and focus” to go far.
Next we went behind the scenes as we were shown down to the hotel’s state-of-the-art sparkling kitchens. The first person we were introduced to was Manuel Pego the team leader of the hotel’s KPs. Manuel shared his fascinating story with us of how he came from Portugal in 1994 and has been heading up the Hyatt’s team of kitchen porters ever since. With great passion, Manuel talked to the candidates about the different roles a KP performs; ranging from polishing silver, washing pots, organising the meat and veg in the fridges and keeping the kitchen spotless. All of these tasks are vital to the smooth running of the hotel and he explained that he loves his job because “There are always things to learn and it is a great job where you have lots of fun being part of a team”.
Jef the Chef – The Churchill’s Executive Chef – was the next person to speak about his career in the kitchen. He told us how “it felt like the best thing in the world embarking on a new adventure” as he got his first ever job working as a dishwasher at a small restaurant in America. From there his journey took him around the world as he worked in locations as far-flung as California, Miami, Hawaii, Serbia and the UK. While travelling the world with his work Jef climbed the ranks starting off as a KP and quickly becoming a Commis Chef, Demi Chef, a Chef de Partie, a Sous Chef, a Head Chef and ending up as an Exec Chef in The Hyatt. An amazing example of the potential to progress in the industry, he told us that starting off as a KP was a fantastic way to “gain vital experience and knowledge to achieve success”
With our tour of the hotel over our job seekers reflected on what they had seen and heard. It was great to hear their feedback as Paul told us the experience had made him “want to get into hospitality so much more than I had done”. Montel told us “I used to think work was boring and no fun but today I saw lots of happy, fun teamwork”. Having a chance to see the inner workings of a hotel showed Joseph “how big an operation it is and how many different roles and responsibilities there are”.
With the day at The Churchill a huge success it is fitting to end on a quote from the great man Winston Churchill himself: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never!” The role of the kitchen porter is hard work. All of the people we spoke to today talked of the need for patience, desire, strength and persistence. Yet despite all the hard work all of the staff agreed that it was worth it. They all saw the KPs role as extremely important and a fantastic way to get your foot in the door of the hospitality industry, whilst gaining invaluable knowledge and experience that would help you progress your career to new and exciting places.