Job Dreams: Caterer
As part of our Job Dreams series, we speak to professionals from different careers and share their advice with you. Last month, we found out what it’s like to be an actor. This month, we spoke to Jess, who is a caterer and runs a tea room!
Tell us a brief summary about you, and your background, and how you got to where you are today:
My name is Jess, I am from Cornwall and I now live in Bourg Saint Maurice in the French Alps. Throughout school and university I knew I wanted to work in sport. I followed that dream by going to Loughborough University, to study Sport Management and Geography. This choice gave me so many opportunities to pursue this career. When my personal life changed drastically, I decided to take the chance to go and spend five months in the mountains doing a ski season. This is also something that I had wanted to do and this initial season opened so many doors for me. It changed my life positively and the new chapter of where I am now began. I am lucky enough to now work in food, and enjoy my favourite sports in the mountains, my two biggest passions in life.
What do you do?
I am a caterer in the French Alps, owning and running the business and small shop/tea room.
Can you tell us what your day-to-day is like?
Five days a week, I prepare and bake all the sweet and savoury treats to sell in the shop, as well as any cakes or apero platters that are on order. This can often mean an early start to get everything ready in time for opening. During opening hours, I serve customers both food and drink, either to take away or eat in, alongside preparing and portioning other base ingredients.
What do you love most about your job?
My clients and suppliers. My ethos is to use as many local ingredients as possible and this has been incredible in helping me to integrate into the local French community. Over the past 12 months it has also been amazing to get to know my local clients. It makes me so happy to be able to put a smile on their faces through my food, especially with introducing a different cuisine into the area.
What do you find most challenging?
Every day is a challenge! Setting up and running a business in my second language has been hard, some mistakes have been made but I have learned a lot along the way.
What did you see yourself doing when you were a kid?
I always wanted to work in sport, it is my other passion. I wasn’t exactly sure of the capacity in sport I wanted to work in, so I tried many different facets to choose sports development. I was lucky enough to work in sport for eight years before moving out to the Alps; working with incredible people from the grassroots to elite sport. Highlights for me include: putting on a free to attend event at Silverstone to introduce people to grassroots motorsport. 3000 people came along on the day, with many heading on to start their own journey in the sport. I also ran a young volunteers project at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Judo events. This is an experience I will never forget.
What challenges did you face in reaching where you are today?
It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to where I am today, both academically and practically. The biggest challenges were learning the art of project management and time management to be the most efficient worker possible. The mistakes I have made along the way have definitely helped me learn the most though.
Where do you see yourself going next?
I will be looking to expand my business over the next five years. Hopefully being able to employ someone to run the shop/tearoom, potentially get someone in to help with the cooking, and maybe even open some other shops in local ski resorts in the future.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first left school?
Everything happens for a reason - trust your decision-making skills and judgement. You know what is best for you!
What advice would you give to someone interested in joining your industry?
Preparation is everything! Whether it is the preparation and portioning of raw ingredients before putting it all together into a dish, or organising your stock room and rotations or sourcing the best suppliers - preparation is the thing that makes your life so much easier. The actual cooking of the food is a small percentage of how your time is spent. The hours are long, it is hard work being on your feet but if you are passionate about food, then it is an incredible industry to be a part of.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve been given?
Mistakes are a normal part of life, they are not something to be afraid of. Choose something you enjoy the most.
What quote do you live by?
Follow your heart and everything else falls into place! Make the most of every opportunity you can - you never know what may happen.