This Chef Appreciation Week we caught up with James Buckley, Director of Culinary for Levy UK + Ireland who talked about the importance of recognising the culinary talent and our frontline teams across our business.

James has been with the company for nine years and has been instrumental within Levy. His passion and enthusiasm shine through, he is as a great leader and he has been a driving force in introducing plant-based menus for some of the leading sports and entertainment venues we work with across the UK.

Why is Chef Appreciation Week important?

Our back-of-house teams often don’t get the recognition they deserve – they don’t always see the positive emails or comments. Busy liaising with customers day in day out ensuring the service levels are maintained, it is easy to move on to the next task or project without reflecting. But we should take the time to recognise them for doing a great job. That’s what this week is all about.

Today our frontline culinary teams have lots of responsibility – it’s not just about food preparation and cooking but allergen management, client relationships, understanding sustainable practices and so much more.

Whilst Chef Appreciation Week is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate and bring focus to our teams, we should be celebrating them throughout the year as they are integral to our organisation, clients and customers.

Nurturing talent is integral

The passion to want to succeed within our teams is evident. As a company we are committed to providing opportunities for all and can support our people through apprenticeships and other developmental training, such as our Career Pathways programme. We can provide that first rung on the ladder for people and it’s our job to ensure they have the opportunities to progress and develop.

Great initiatives from previous Chef Appreciation Weeks that I have seen, include: Executive chefs running chefs’ tables, teams cooking a meal to say thank you and inviting all the front-line teams to enjoy, and encouraging employees to leave positive comments in a central area for all to see. The positivity that creates cannot be underestimated. Within venues our audience is the guest, but to ensure the guest is happy our own employees have to be happy too. Last year, during Chef Appreciation Week our chef responsible for staff catering at one of our large venues was recognised for their unwavering dedication – the power of this recognition meant so much to this person. I’m looking forward to all the activities we have planned for this week and seeing our teams acknowledged.

And finally, it would be remiss of us not give you an opportunity to shine a light on someone who deserves to be recognised…

It is only fitting that I recognise someone who goes under the radar, an unsung hero who goes about his role in such a professional manner, and that person is David Hill, Regional Chef for the Midlands for Levy UK + Ireland. He really is key in the development of the Levy food offer and will often go into support a venue before moving straight onto his next project. David, thank you.