How I got here

21 September 2004
How I got here

"If you're on time you're 15 minutes late," says Steven Schaffer when prompted for the best piece of advice he's received during his career. For a man who's worked as

a chef, run his own business and experienced the world of sales and marketing, you can understand why it has become something akin to a personal mantra. Schaffer graduated from Westminster Kingsway Catering College in London during the eighties and was a commis chef at Mirabelle restaurant between 1985 and 1986. His early career took him to Cincinnati for a year in 1986 and then to the British West Indies in 1987 as first chef at the Hyatt Grand Cayman hotel. A year on, Schaffner admits he was looking to leave the life of a kitchen chef behind. Between 1988 and 1991 he ran his own desserts business, Just Desserts, but despite being well received, the business was claimed by the UK's economic recession and Schaffer looked to pastures new, certain that a return to cheffing was not for him. "At the time I was a chef it was long before we were getting the sort of coverage we do now," he explains. "I thought things simply hadn't changed enough in the industry, and often found myself using old equipment, so I went into sales." His first role was as a sales representative at French Kitchen Catering Supplies, where he found he had an immediate rapport with clients thanks to his previous cheffing experience. After this, Schaffer enjoyed nearly eight years as national account executive at Brake Bros Food Service and one as national account manager at Booker Foodservice, before itchy feet led him to his first operational role with Pubmaster. "I think the pub industry today is one of the most vibrant," says Schaffer. "Sure, there'll always be top-end restaurants serving the very finest food, but UK pubs have become the equivalent of French bistros." In 2002 he changed role once more and became catering operations manager at the company, which was bought in 2003 by Punch Taverns, forming one of the largest pub companies in the UK. Schaffer became catering development manager early this year, and now finds himself part of the group's marketing team. At present, Punch is making a big promotional push on pub food and is seeking to help some of its tenants in overcoming their current reticence. "We want to demonstrate that Punch can help with all these issues, while today's technology means you don't have to be a gourmet chef to provide good quality food," says Schaffer. Career highlights1987-88 First chef at Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman hotel, British West Indies 1992 National account executive, Brake Bros Food Service 1999-2002 Regional operations manager, Pubmaster 2004 Punch Taverns catering development manager
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