Loving life in hospitality – Chris Treacher, Wise Catering
As part of the Think Again campaign, Janie Manzoori-Stamford asks Chris Treacher why he loves his career in hospitality
How did you find your way into the hospitality industry? When I was 15 I started working part-time in a hotel close to home in Donegal, Ireland. I was instantly attracted to the industry and enrolled on a college course in Belfast and took my HCIMA exams.
My college placement was spent learning how to hold saucepans at the Europa hotel in Belfast. It holds the infamous title of being the most bombed hotel in Europe; it really was quite a learning experience.
I first came across Wise Catering while studying hotel and catering management at Manchester Metropolitan University. I had the opportunity of a summer job working for the company in outside bar management and fell in love with the business and the lifestyle.
As a young student it was great fun working at prestigious venues and sporting events and being part of a young and dynamic team. Little did I know that I would one day be the managing director of one the largest independent catering companies in the country.
What are you doing now and how did you get there? I'm the managing director of Wise Catering, and have been connected with the business for most of my adult life. However, my career with Wise started on the very bottom rung, working as a kitchen porter.
Having spent my summers working for Wise Catering, it seemed only natural when I graduated to move to Southampton and seek a full time position, but that was not before a short dalliance as a young entrepreneurial restaurateur at Southampton's trendy Lizard Lounge.
In 1995, I joined Wise as a mobile bar manager and really relished the job. When the mobile bar arm was sold to Express Taverns, I found myself working for the new company as operations manager running its mobile bar fleet, but it was when Compass acquired Express Taverns that I took my first steps towards building my own outside catering business.
I set up Events Bar Management and took over the Wise mobile bar contracts that I had previously been running for Express Taverns. It was one of the best business decisions I have ever made and led to me having the opportunity to acquire Wise Catering in 2005.
Have you had a mentor along the way? Not really a mentor, but my first boss back in the Carrig Rua Hotel in Donegal taught me a very important lesson by installing in me the important values of true customer service.
What's the most rewarding day you've had in your career? There have been several, but buying Wise Catering and walking through the door as managing director has to be one of them.
What do you love most about your job? I still get a buzz from the excitement and diversity of our business. It's also great to receive positive customer feedback, but I also love the fact that as a company we are competing and standing shoulder to shoulder with some of the UK's corporate catering giants.
What has your hospitality salary allowed you to do?
Who do you think is the best ambassador for the hospitality industry and why? Fernando Peire - the work that he has done as the Restaurant Inspector has really opened up â¨both the public and restaurateurs' eyes to the fact that catering is a profession and not a game, or something that can be treated as a part-time hobby.
Would you recommend the industry to others? Yes, but with caution. You need to buy into the industry and realise that it takes a lot of commitment. Working in the catering and service industry is a way of life and to succeed you have to understand and embrace that. If you do, it can be a very fulfilling, exciting and rewarding career.