So it was bought at the HBAA Annual Forum as part of the charity Auction, our Cook and Dine experience at The Brigade. All monies going to the Beyond Food Foundation and Brigade, so that feels good. It was decided that this would the SMT’s day out together.
We don’t get to spend much social time together and when we do usually its over copious amounts of wine; so the idea of spending the day in the kitchen with my Managing Director or Ops Director was quite amusing to me. We arrived, all 10 of us and were taken up to the upstairs open kitchen with dining room. We did our introductions and were then acquainted with the team from Brigade.
Having worked with the charity on behalf of the HBAA for the past 2 years, I know full well of the amazing work they do and the inspiration that is Simon Boyle. Hats off, he is one in a million. But my colleagues knew less. I watched their faces as they listened to Simon’s and were introduced to Grant and Leon the training chefs for the day.
Grant was one of the cohort 12 apprentices. He was forced to move into a hostel after he experienced financial difficulty and marital breakdown. He joined the apprenticeship to give himself a new start and direction. Leon is Beyond Food's Chef Trainer. He started his career as an apprentice himself at the Hoxton Apprentice so is perfectly placed to support the apprentices as they overcome personal barriers and help them back into full time employment. Both Leon and Grant reinforce the fabric of what they do at Brigade, by helping new apprentices and raising in money with events such as ours.
We split into groups and each took a course. Wow it was fun! Watching my Chairman fillet fish, my Property Director get annoyed with the coulis and my Managing Director struggle with the kneading of bread. Having said all of that, the food was delicious and we sat down together and feasted on a great banquet. This is when we met Tracey. Tracey is 29 years old and she had experienced a difficult relationship breakdown and was left looking after her daughter alone. She came to Beyond Food after being referred by a single parent and troubled families support worker. Tracey started to rebuild her life on the Freshlife course and then moved to the Out Front course which is a 4 week traineeship and she has been employed by Brigade since October 2017. Tracey also had health challenges of her own to overcome and her story told by herself moved us all.
This was the moment when we were all so very grateful for the opportunity to be part of something that gives back so much in such a positive way, that helps the young and vulnerable find their way, that lifts those fallen on hard times, that puts its arms around the lonely and afraid and helps them find meaningful employment and joy in their lives, through the catalyst of food and creativity. This industry that we love, hospitality as given hope to those that Simon and his team have been able to help.
Simon really is extraordinary; he works tirelessly to better the lives of our young homeless people. Giving them respect, hope, skills, job security, and a future. Through his charity Beyond Food and the Brigade Restaurant, he works with the most vulnerable of individuals many with challenges way beyond being homelessness. But with our support he can help break that cycle and have a lasting positive impact of the lives of those he helps.
The Wyboston Lakes team will be back next year to Cook & Dine once more and we can’t wait!
Louisa Watson – Director of Marketing at Wyboston Lakes