David Wilkinson - 05 Jun 2017

Those lazy, crazy days of Summer

Where is this year disappearing to?  The warm weather has only just bothered to turn up and the feeling of arriving and leaving work in daylight is still a pleasant surprise but in truth the year is flashing by. Give it a couple of weeks and we’ll be closer to next Christmas than last and the nights will start drawing in. No, please, don’t thank me for that encouraging thought!

As sure as I am that Christmas day will fall on the 25th of December this year, I’m also sure that come the third week of July the summer quiet time will begin.  As soon as the Schools break up for summer the conference business also takes a holiday and we know that we have six or seven quiet weeks on our hand. However, if your own business is unaffected by the schools, there are some great deals to be had at One Great George Street no matter what day of the week you’re looking to host a dinner party, meeting, conference or event.

Six or seven weeks of quiet time! How boring I hear you say!  Well, not a bit of it. The summer down time is a Godsend to us and it ends up being one of my busiest times of year but with the rather nice bonus of only working 8 hours a day.

The first thing we’ll do is write the 2018 Banqueting Menu (see what we put together last summer for the 2017 Banqueting Menu).  This is always a massive undertaking but this year will be particularly interesting because we are giving the menu a huge shake up.  The basic plans are already under consideration and we are very excited about the outcome.  At the end of the summer when everything is complete I’ll write and tell you all about it.

Following the fun creative bit, there’s so much work to make the dream a reality.  It needs to be written up correctly, costed and cross checked.  We need to create recipes, trial dishes, potentially source new suppliers and make sure that we can deliver each dish quickly and efficiently.  We then need to collate the allergen information for every dish and then train the chefs how to cook it.  Piece of cake!

There’s also a whole of bunch of very time consuming “fun” stuff to do and this down time is perfect for it.  Amongst other things there are risk assessments to update, COSHH (handling chemicals) assessments to be done and staff appraisals to be carried out.  We also organise training for staff to make sure that they are up to date with food hygiene, allergen information and first aid.

It’s also a good time for us to do some genuinely interesting stuff.  We speak to all our main suppliers about exciting new products (and taste them obviously!) and we take our chefs to visit their premises to give them an insight into the food business.

Possibly my favourite part of the summer is that we take advantage of the quiet lunchtimes to visit some of London’s finest restaurants.  Although our business is more conferencing than restaurant based, it’s always good to see what’s happening out there to help keep our menus fresh and relevant.  It’s a tough job visiting great restaurants but I’m very brave about it and don’t mind taking one for the team.

This summer will also see a small refurbishment in the kitchen.  For the last two weeks of August the main kitchen will be out of bounds and a lot of work will be carried out.  There’s some wear and tear maintenance going on plus some essential work on the extract hood, but more excitingly for me I’m getting a new granular pot washer.  I have tried and failed to spark much interest when I speak to people about my new pot washer, but believe me it’s very exciting!  My Kitchen Porters ARE very excited about it because it will mean the end of them leaning into a deep sink scrubbing pots because now they’ll just have to load and unload the machine.

There is one last thing that I love about summer.  On a couple of days during the quiet time I will finish about noon and head off to a golf course for a twilight round with some friends.  To come to work and then play golf always feels a bit naughty, but it’s a great way of relaxing to recharge those batteries ready for the aforementioned inevitability of Christmas.  25th of December, in case you were wondering! On that subject, if you fancy a pre-Christmas lunch with colleagues or a bargain private dinner party in December with us take a look at our very last remaining Christmas offer dates (I know, some people are sickeningly organised!) and book soon to avoid disappointment!

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