My first contract role in London was based in Kensington and I must admit it was not a bad part of London to ease myself into the trauma of working again after four months of gallivanting around the world. The company I worked for was in an industry as far from glamorous as you could get yet we shared a building with a rather chic interiors brand and a carpark with a well-known record company. There were also always rumours of people spotting Prince Harry at the local M&S; I never quite believed that one, but hey, it’s High Street Ken darling, anything can happen.
During those six months I got used to rotating my lunch options between the usual high street chains, having the weekly splurge at Whole Foods, and basically spending my pay cheque before I received it on lunch break shopping trips. It wasn’t financially ideal but compared to where my office is based now, it was just lovely. Then we moved offices and I never ventured back because I didn’t have a reason to. I certainly didn’t expect that when I did, it would be for a midweek curry.
Once upon a time I was a fresh faced seventeen year old pondering what on earth I was going to do for the rest of my life. The grown ups will tell you that ‘the world is your oyster’ but in the very next breath go on to rattle off a list of their ‘approved careers’ which will give you what they consider stability and status. Common inclusions in such lists: lawyer, doctor, accountant, engineer… all options I was given, all admirable professions many of my friends engage in now.
But what didn’t make the list? I went to a fairly traditional girls’ school and despite the ‘girls can do anything’ mantra, encouragement into trades were unheard of and anything in hospitality was somewhat frowned upon. Now, a bit over ten years later, I have no doubt that those traditional professions will still be encouraged but I wonder if careers in the food and drink industry have gained a higher status these days given society’s gastronomic obsession. I certainly hope so because I truly believe it’s a highly competitive industry which requires just as much ambition and dedication if you want to be at the top of this food chain.