Institute of Hospitality

How Passion4Hospitality can shape your career

Here’s a little feel-good story worth sharing about a Management Graduate with a promising future in the world of hospitality. We finally said Hello at SkillsLondon when we both represented


in our roles as Springboard Ambassadors 

(see picture)

Full Article Here:

"Participating in the Institute of Hospitality's P4H Student Debating Competition and Careers Forum led to Simrian Kaur finding a job that she really loves.
Having worked all through university, Simrian had a choice of more than one graduate position…"

Simrian Kaur and Thomas Kilroy: Meeting at the P4H debate led to an exciting new job opportunity...

If you are a student or (or even a lecturer) in the field of Hospitality, I can only urge you to get a team signed up. This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate your leadership potential… and who knows what doors you might open?

Please feel free to leave a comment. And if you enjoyed reading this you may like other related posts listed below. To receive future posts don't forget to subscribe via email (just enter your email above), or by RSS, or why not follow me on twitter



Food trends: the only thing constant is change.

The FSCI (Foodservice Consultants Institute) held their international conference last week where the debate turned to food and business trends that might be on the hospitality landscape in 2020. Insects on the menu, South East Asian food, aging diners and nutritional guidelines were the some of the main headlines in the discussion. 

Insects I'm not too sure about, but the other three are definitely due for a big appearance on the horizon in my humble opinion.
But first, let's think about the concept of 2020 for a second. It sounds so futuristic in the 'science fiction' sense of the word. Even now I still picture Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A space odyssey" as taking place during some distant time way off in the future when those fleeting twelve months have already well and truly left the building. And sadly, with no monolith to show for it. (Imagine that as a Y2K 'project of the people' rather than New Labour's recipe for blancmange, the Millennium Dome). But alas 2020 is only seven years away. Or six actually, with only weeks 'til the next New Year hangover.

So to get a concept of what trends might look like over such a timespan, let's take a look back at the last seven years. For me personally, the UK had a fresh appeal having just arrived back after an eight year spell in Kathmandu during which time I looked around at what might become the 'next big thing'. 

Boutique hotels immediately spring to mind with suede throws in rooms of Farrow and Ball autumnal shades. Gastro-pubs too were attracting Celebrity chefs away from expensive starched tableware and into low maintenance wood floors. The PubCos rubbed their hands with glee as articles in the Caterer & Hotelkeeper encouraged chefs that this was their easiest route to running their own business. It was. But it was also a honey trap. Within a matter of months, Gordon Ramsay Holdings snapped up The Narrow for £4M quid, quickly following with The Devonshire and then The Warrington. Worral-Thompson (remember him?) took on The Greyhound while media-phwoar Jean Christophe Novelli took on Green King tenancies at the white Horse in Harpenden and The French Horn in Steppingly (a pun no doubt appealing to ladies of a certain age.)

During this time the buzzwords to catch the wave were 'casual dining'; 'grazing dishes'; 'tapas fusion' and 'Modern British'. And bars. Just insert a generic word in front of the word bar and voila! - a new concept is born: juice bars, coffee bars, seafood bars, dessert bars, noodle bars... you get the idea.

As for actual food trends, I'd say the rise and rise of coffee - yes it is food for the purpose of this topic - has been quite relentless. It has even been mooted as the saviour of the ailing pub. Nothing is.

The branding of sustainability has also increased, with logos such as Red Tractor, Freedom Assured and MSC making their way onto the menu for customers to feel more considerate in their choice of animal flavoured protein.

Artisan pizzas, dirty burgers, gourmet hot dogs and chipotle chilli burritos have all had their fifteen minutes of fame. And for that sweet tooth we have seen seasonal macaroons, salted caramel you-name-it, water-based ganache truffles, doughnuts, cronuts and now vintage-plated retro sponge cakes thanks to the meteoric rise of amateur baking as championed on Great British Bake Off.

Just like the proverbial soufflé however, what goes up must come down and as such, these too will come to pass.

Boutique hotels are being squeezed out by the budget brands of Premier Inn and Travelodge while the Gastro-pub business model lauded by the brightest and best turned into huge liabilities as a result of the recession with many of them having been sold on to naive new owners keen to make their mark. (To be fair, a few continue to beat the odds - Tom Kerridge championing honest-to-goodness British food at his two-star-Michelin Hand and Flowers is riding a crest just now. And deservedly so after years of hard work at the stove.)

Seven years from now in 2020, we WILL care more about the nutritional value of our dining-out choices. We WILL be keen to try new and authentic micro-regional dishes from Asian countries that we or our children are travelling to. We will even eat a few insects if the right celebrity chef or brand can get behind the initiative. 

What WON'T happen however is the stagnation or grinding to a halt of these continual food trends and new business concepts. Certainly not as long as organisations like the FCSI, Academy of Catering Excellence, Institute of Hospitality, Arena, BHA and a host of other professional bodies continue to foster debate, research and discussion among their members to ensure the industry stays vibrant for decades to come. 

As a veteran casino owner once said to me after 40 years in Nepal: "the only thing constant here, is change." I suspect the same applies to food trends and business concepts in the year 2020.

What has the Institute ever done for us?

A rather flippant title which paraphrases the old Monty Python scene in Life of Brian, but it underlines my basic premise here that you only get out of something what you put in.

Although I only joined earlier this year, the Institute of Hospitality has been a little bit of a revelation for me. The networking opportunities, the chance to discuss and share industry trends and business latest with like-minded professionals and ultimately, having a forum where I can put something back into the industry, are some of the main reasons why I enjoy being a member. In short, it's that satisfaction of being part of something really worthwhile that counts and I happen to like what the Institute of Hospitality stands for and the people it represents.

But not all members are made in the same mould and I suspect there are one or two who begrudgingly fire off the annual cheque and wonder what good it has done them beyond a quarterly magazine and a shiny plastic card in the post. From one end of the year to the next, they shy away from attending events or spreading the Insitute's message. Whether or not they can be encouraged to participate more, I'm not sure. I guess at least they are sending in a cheque. And I know that it is gratefully received, so please keep doing that.

With this in mind, I was very interested at the Annual Lunch to hear two or three different conversations on the challenge of attracting new members. As an organisation, the Institute has a lot to offer, but I have a feeling that not too many people in the wider industry are aware of what it is or what it sets out to achieve. People who don't have the words Hotel or Director on their business cards for example. Or don't even have business cards for that matter. Although from what I have seen, this does look set to change with some renewed energy.

Now, if you’re not a member and wondering what it is the Institute does, then go to their website here and have a look. It’s a professional body that offers training resources, industry guidance, personal development and the most fantastic networking opportunities imaginable to really boost your career prospects, business credentials and industry profile.  Whether you are a student (especially if you are a student!), a manager or an entrepreneur, I would urge you to consider becoming a member. And if you’re still not convinced, then give them a call to see if there is an event happening near you. Go along and see what you think. And whatever you do, make sure you follow them on Twitter (@IoH_Online).

If however, you are currently a Member or Fellow of the Institute reading this, don’t pat yourself on the back too soon, because (upstart that I am) I have a challenge for you. Why not pay it forward? I am sure you have been rewarded by your membership over the years, but the Institute needs new members and revitalised energy in the pipeline. Why not pick out an aspiring and talented younger member within your team and reward them by sponsoring their first year’s membership fee. Get them involved, get them motivated and get them talking about the Institute’s good work. That small contribution could make such a big difference to the future of the Institute. More importantly, it could make a profoundly big difference in the future of their lives.

It’s what you put in that determines what you get out. So perhaps the title of my post should have been ‘What have you done for the Institute lately’?

Uncharted territory and a man with Compass

As the Institute of Hospitality Annual Lunch concluded, we had an opportunity to mingle for a few minutes and I have to thank my friend Melvin Gold FIH (a fine Hotel Consultant who can be contacted here for the best of industry advice. You’re welcome Melvin.) for calling me over to introduce someone he thought I should meet. Knowing I work within Foodservice Catering, he must have enjoyed the look on my face as I found myself shaking hands with Ian Sarson, the Group MD of Compass UK & Ireland. 

Ian Sarson, MD, Compass UK & IRE
Now, for anyone reading this who may be unfamiliar with our industry, Compass is the largest Foodservice Caterer in the UK employing 50,000 people in the sector today. Globally speaking, Compass is the 11th largest employer in the world. So needless to say, I was chuffed at the opportunity to meet and chat with one of the key leaders within our industry.

We talked about the challenges we faced along the way as he mentioned the Disney contract he oversaw many years ago in Hong Kong around the time I was opening my operation in Kathmandu. Coming back to the challenges of today, I thought it was funny, in an ironic way, that we both stood looking at the same crossroads. The road to contract catering Nirvana was traditionally found on the highway of client satisfaction. Now the industry faces a left turn towards retail and direct customer appeal and a right turn off the beaten track towards social media engagement between employees, customers, clients and stakeholders. Suddenly size is not the advantage it used to be and there are certainly no shortcuts.

But here’s the great thing about hospitality and events such as this. Rather than a stilted conversation with no common ground, we both talked about starting out as chefs in the business and how important it was to understand the fundamentals of your craft if you are to progress up the ladder. With a little hard work and perhaps a pinch of luck, the opportunity is there to progress to the very highest levels. This is an industry that rewards the go-getters from every walk of life and Ian Sarson exemplifies this.

Whichever respective roads we take, it was certainly a pleasure to meet Mr. Sarson along this one and I thank him for being so generous with his time. On occasions like this, you can just go along for the lunch, but it’s better to come away with some great food for thought.

Setting tables to setting standards: the Hospitality Assured lunch

A nicely weighted envelope arrived on my desk a few weeks ago. A rare thing in this digital age. In it was a very nice note from Peter Ducker FIH, the Chief Executive of the Institute of Hospitality, inviting me to the Institute’s Annual Lunch at The Lancaster Hotel on the 29th of May. He said it was in recognition of my contribution as a judge at the Passion4Hospitality Student Debate. In any case a very unexpected, if pleasant surprise for which I am most grateful.

At last the day arrived and on a grey overcast morning in London, I ventured in and took my seat at the Annual General Meeting which was convened an hour before lunch. Although attendance to this is not obligatory, I was keen to get a better understanding of the Institute and the committee members who have shaped it into what it is today. I did find the proceedings very formal, almost to the point of sedentary, but I suspect this belies the hard work and debate that goes on behind the scenes. Certainly it gave me a snapshot of the institute’s challenges and opportunities ahead. In business-like manner the Agenda was judiciously dispensed, proposals were seconded and as lunch loomed, the ayes eventually had it. ‘No scandal’, quipped one member as we got up from our seats.

Peter Ducker FIH

At the pre-lunch reception we were greeted by very friendly service staff proffering Champagne and delicate little canapés. What a great first impression. Catching up with old friends and making new ones is always a highlight on such occasions. Eventually as the chatter became more animated (Champagne does that, I find), our Toastmaster reassuringly announced that Lunch was now served. Finding my table, it was only when I got introduced to my fellow diners that I began to realise the sheer breadth of talent that turned out to celebrate our industry on this occasion. Sitting next to me for example, was Anna-Marie Dowling, the General Manager of the Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow Terminal 5. She oversees a massively busy operation with her team of 390 staff. Just last week they had an unexpected influx of 600 air passengers left stranded as a result of the runways being closed. The hotel was already full, so that was quiet a challenge.

Superb food at The Lancaster

The food at The Lancaster was absolutely superb and only matched by the super-friendly and efficient service. Only later, we found out we had been ‘guinea pigs’ as part of an elaborate initiative to include other ‘non F&B’ departments from around the hotel in the service of our meal that day. So HR, payroll and the other department heads stood shoulder to shoulder with the waiters and waitresses. This was a great team-building exercise and for the Hotel and a chance to showcase their Hospitality Assured values for which they were to win an award later in the proceedings. Speeches were made between courses with the grand finale of the annual Hospitality Assured awards being announced before we had pudding (as we call it here in Oxford). You can read all about the winners here. The people in those operations are certainly a credit to this industry.

Overall, the event was a huge success and the team at the Institute can all feel very proud of a job well done. It was great being in the company of such passionate people and I enjoyed listening to some very different perspectives. What a great boost to morale knowing the industry attracts people like these into it. Funny, now I think about it: a Hospitality Assured lunch to illustrate how the future of Hospitality is indeed assured.

The Winners of the 2013 Hospitality Assured Awards.

If you want to know more about joining the Institute of Hospitality then please call 0208 661 4927 or email
And why not rise to the challenge of gaining the Hospitality Assured accreditation. As someone who has been through the process, I know firsthand that in striving to meet the criteria required, you and your business will benefit in ways that might surprise you.