Our UK executive chef and operations manager started out as executive pastry chef of Soho House Chicago before becoming a very busy adopted Brit. This is what she gets up to in a typical week
Monday My job is to oversee Soho House food in the UK, and all the countless moving parts that make our operation work smoothly – so Monday is hectic. Typically we follow up with any outstanding issues or concerns that were raised over the weekend, finalising financials such as food cost and wages, and participating in our weekly general manager and head chef conference calls. We also review forecasts and plan out the week ahead. Is there a high-profile wedding at Babington House? Are the Little House Mayfair team briefed on the new flatware? Oh, and don’t forget Under-27s night – easily as busy as any weekend.
Tuesday usually starts with our WOM (weekly operations meeting). This is where myself, UK director Tom Collins and various heads of department review figures and flag up any issues relating to finance, purchasing or maintenance for example. We all leave with a concrete objective: mine might be overseeing a menu change, new opening, or perhaps an event or external collaboration. Later we’ll have a recruitment meeting to review what potential movements are being made in the company. We are constantly expanding, and transferring internally is a great way to help our people to develop – but are we able to replace them in post? Will the new chemistry work out? We try to be as unanimous as possible in these decisions.
Wednesday I start midweek with tastings for prospective menu changes. I love trying new stuff, but I also check out regular menu items. Some days I might sample up to 30 dishes, so it’s a good thing I never eat breakfast. Onsite I’ll poke around the kitchen and catch up with the teams, see what’s going on with them. In the late afternoon I usually review rotas. A strong rota is the backbone to any successful operation, not just for one individual site but also as a group. I can’t have all the head chefs off on the same day. We think about what events are coming up, like London Fashion Week or the Frieze art fair. Which sites will be busiest, needing our best and brightest on hand?
Thursday On Thursdays I’ll follow up on any outstanding tasks from earlier in the week: more tastings, rota comments and following up on figures. We’re gearing up to the weekend so I’ll check up on bookings and make sure we have sufficient coverage, or if an event needs a push, that we’re doing everything we can to drive awareness. In the evening you’ll typically find me at a site doing dinner service with the teams. I started out as a pastry chef (my first job with the company was the opening of Soho House Chicago) and I still love being around the kitchen.
Friday is the day when I have a lot of deadlines crammed in. It’s crucial to finish any outstanding tasks that are reliant on our support office, whether it be from finance, social, design or purchasing. Otherwise I’l need to wait until Monday morning, which means I’m already behind for the upcoming week. I’ll also have tastings here and there and be onsite for dinner service.
Saturday I try to not to be too full on like I am earlier in the week. I’ll have a later start sometimes, read emails, check up on sites and then make my way into work. We always have a senior operator on duty for weekend cover. That can entail anything from working the pass, running food to dealing with a power outage or liaising with tech support if systems crash. You might be sorting out coverage if there is a staff shortage, or helping out at a site with a pool in beautiful weather.
Sunday Sometimes I take Sunday off. But equally it’s a very busy day for us. Breakfast service is followed by brunch with Sunday roast coupled in, and then we segue into dinner service. With so many menus crammed into a short amount of time it can feel merciless so I try to be as present and accessible as possible for our teams. If all goes well, I’ll head out after brunch service and have some time to myself. My favourite place for dinner is Hawksmoor and I always order a Porterhouse steak with peppercorn sauce. In the evening I make personal calls, do a little reading, catch up on some food magazines. Then it’s back to work emails and preparing for the upcoming week.