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Top chain chef reveals the two traits critical to managing multiple kitchens

Simon Howlett, head development chef 2

Patience and a calm temperament: those are the virtues that every exec chef needs to succeed – at least as far as Shepherd Neame’s Simon Howlett is concerned.

He currently oversees more than 70 kitchens within the Kent-based pub group’s managed estate so is well aware of the importance of teamwork.

When he joined the business eight years ago, he was the sole person looking after its food offer.

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Now he manages a team of two development chefs and a development manager, while four years ago it launched a mentor scheme which has provided another source of support.

Five head chefs are appointed as mentors to guide and train other chefs across its estate and help with menu development.

Asked which personal characteristics help him in his role, he revealed: “Patience and a calm temperament – to deal with often complex and demanding situations. Empathy is also important, as I have worked in every kitchen role from pot wash to head chef, so I am aware of and have more of an understanding of everyone’s needs.”

In addition to managing his head office team, Mr Howlett’s responsibilities include overseeing the development of the kitchen staff across its business, including organising training workshops and helping to induct new staff.

He looks after menu planning, manages relationships with equipment suppliers and food suppliers, and undertake site visits and checks.

“One of the joys of the job is that no two days are the same, as we are constantly dealing with a variety of different demands and issues,” he said.

Read the full interview with Simon Howlett in this month’s digital edition, HERE.

EXCLUSIVE: Shepherd Neame puts efficiency at the heart of kitchen specification

Tags : executive chefsPubsShepherd NeameSimon Howlett
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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