In this area of work, I perhaps come as close as one can to understanding the industry (the only member of Taste Hospitality without direct hospitality experience) without experiencing it from the inside, but Tom Kerridge’s recent BBC series offers insight into the behind the scenes to the people who would otherwise never see in.
The UK loves hospitality and it’s one of the most valuable economic industries in this country, however I think the majority of people take it for granted. They expect absolutely faultless service from people that are often overworked and places that are often understaffed; as if taking on a position as a Waiter provides someone with superhuman abilities.
They think that anyone who operates a hospitality business is an automatic millionaire who puts their feet up and watches the money roll in; possibly because they’ve seen Gordon Ramsay’s house on the tele.
They forget, or are unaware, that even the likes of Tom Kerridge – first a successful 2 Michelin Star chef and now a popular TV personality – still has overheads, bills, and scores of staff to worry about; the look of dismay on Tom’s face when he learned about the new energy bills and insurance prices for operating his sites spoke volumes about the dilemmas hospitality operators face at the moment.
These are often people who have poured their life, soul – and sometimes – entire finances into a business they adore but that, especially in the last few years, has had a troubling habit of biting the hand that feeds it.
And this is something that Tom explores so well and so thoroughly; the fact that up and down the country people from an array of backgrounds and leading a variety of operations face the same consistent battles to make sure that, on the face of it, their business provides the service customers expect, while in the background their staff are happy and they are operating in a way that means they can afford to survive.
One of the most interesting aspects of the series, was both the adaptability and variation throughout the industry. We got to meet and learn about everything from an intimate Michelin Star Lake District restaurant to a flourishing, independent burger chain and from a family run seaside fish and chip shop to a multi-vendor street food operator; we see the vibrancy, the camaraderie, the hard work and the ingenuity that threads through this wonderful world.
The awareness that Tom Kerridge’s series provides, should give people who are blind to this world – aside from when they’re in a restaurant, pub or hotel – an insight into just how much goes into making their experiences as memorable as possible.
Tom’s BBC series shows a side of hospitality that most people never see – hence the name I suppose! I hope everyone watches it, and I hope everyone comes to understand just how lucky we are, and on just how much of a knife edge the industry all too often finds itself.
Tom Kerridge’s Hidden World of Hospitality is available on BBC iPlayer.