Joe Hyam, former Caterer and Hotelkeeper editor, dies

28 April 2014 by
Joe Hyam, former Caterer and Hotelkeeper editor, dies

Joe Hyam, former editor of Caterer and Hotelkeeper who left an indelible mark on the hospitality industry, has passed away at the age of 80.

During the 15 years he spent from the summer of 1975 at the helm of Caterer and Hotelkeeper

The most high profile event he was responsible for was the launch in 1984 of the Catey Awards, for which he himself was presented the Special Award at the 1991 Cateys.

He also founded conferences for chefs and housekeepers, and also initiated the prestigious Hotelier of the Year Award, which is now entering its 32nd year.

Hyam left Caterer and Hotelkeeper at the end of 1990 to become executive director of the Academy of Culinary Arts, which was intended to become the first university of culinary arts in the UK. However, the catastrophic recession of the early 1990s and the destructive damage of the Iraq war resulted in the abandonment of the project.

It was a major blow for Hyam, who passionately believed in the proposed Academy, but it did nothing to dent his high esteem within an industry that he fully embraced.

Mark Lewis, group editor of Caterer and Hotelkeeper, said: "Joe and I never had the opportunity to work together - I joined the magazine some 14 years after he left - but I was quickly able to grasp and appreciate the great impression he made on both the Caterer and the industry at large.

"While his achievements were many in the 15 years that he worked on the title, I think his greatest legacy must be the creation of the Cateys, for which we at the Caterer will always be grateful for. I hope that many in the industry share our view."

Dominic Walsh, who worked at Caterer and Hotelkeeper from 1989 to 1996 and is now leisure reporter at the Times, said that Hyam did not just report about the industry, but also became a part of it.

"That did not mean he was soft on the industry," he said. "On the contrary, he could be pretty tough in his views sometimes. But when he did express strong views, he generally did so from a position of knowledge and such opinions were honestly held."

"He was highly respected as a leading light in putting the industry's views to a wider audience."

Kit Chapman, owner of the Castle hotel in Taunton, was given his first break as a writer when Hyam offered him a regular column in the magazine.

"Joe had a profound influence on me personally and on the industry at large," he said. "He was a very remarkable editor. He helped to make Caterer and Hotelkeeper a great name and used it to provide a voice for, and raise the profile of, the hospitality industry."

Sara Jayne Stanes, chief executive of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts (known as the Academie Culinaire de France at the time that Hyam was working to launch the aforementioned Academy of Culinary Arts), added that Hyam was "ahead of his time" and "knew just about everyone" that there was to know in the hospitality industry. "Joe was passionate about food and gastronomy and a highly talented writer," she said. "He had an intellectual but immensely picturesque readable way with words. He had a great sense of humour and was, himself, a fabulous cook.

"Joe was at the vanguard of the groundswell of the emerging talents of the British chef back in the late eighties and early nineties, which prompted him to launch the Chef supplement to the Caterer. He not only embraced but actively promoted the dramatic changes in the UK's culinary history but never missed an opportunity to pay respect to the influence of so many great French chefs."

Harry Murray, chairman of Lucknam Park, near Bath, and winner of the 1986 Hotelier of the Year, said he has very fond memories of Hyam. "He was the person who called me to advise I was Hotelier of the Year, a career changing event. He was very kind to me at that time and we spent a very happy 24 hours together at the Imperial, Torquay, for the interview.

"When I was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 he was one of the first in the room to congratulate me."

In his retirement, Hyam was a prolific blogger, writing more than 3,000 entries since 2005, and he also wrote poetry and short stories. In his final post, written the day before he died, he wrote: "Cheerfulness is my chief object in life even when it seems to be a fleeting virtue. I find myself hoping that people will make allowances for its present frailty."

Hyam also grew vegetables in a walled garden belonging to a neighbour and was an enthusiastic cook and entertainer.

Hyam's partner of more than 20 years, Heidi, passed away in December 2013. He leaves two children, Pippa and Toby, and five grandchildren.

Joe Hyam, 20 September 1933 - 10 March 2014

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