How I got here

14 April 2005 by
How I got here

David Buttery, 35, had done the washing-up and occasional spot of silver service as a youngster, because his mother worked at a contract caterer in the West Midlands.

Being a handy sort, Buttery ended up taking a carpentry apprenticeship and entered the construction business.

However, the hospitality industry's gain came about because of American football and Buttery's charmingly named team, the Black Country Nailers. Keen to save enough money to play in the USA on a cross-team invitational tour under the colours of the British Bulldogs, he took a bar job five days a week on top of his trade. But the tour was not to be, as the notoriously unpredictable building industry went into a slump, and Buttery opted for redundancy. His decision was not the gamble it might have seemed, as Buttery had already seized the opportunity to move from barman to chef at the group of three independently owned restaurants where he worked. Much like a wide receiver who's caught a pass, he never looked back. Although good initially, the restaurant role led to Buttery carrying out training across three sites, all at the age of 22. "It was too much, too young," he says. Undeterred, he joined Center Parcs in Wiltshire, after a recommendation by a colleague, initially in a 14-week consultancy role and later as chef de partie. Because of the site's proximity to Salisbury Plain, its kitchens attracted a lot of retired military chefs, who were very much stuck in their ways and resistive to the changes Buttery was trying to implement. "I just had to stick at my job with the support of the senior chef there, but often it felt like I was banging my head against a wall," says Buttery. Next he moved to central London and Bass-owned Jeffersons as sous chef before joining Football, Football in 1996 in the same role. He again took over the training of the kitchen team. A stint at the Fashion Café followed in 2000, first as sous chef and then head chef. But just two months before Christmas the owners warned that they couldn't guarantee the team's jobs and Buttery decided to abandon ship. In 2002 he moved to London's Swiss Cottage helping a friend out and acting as assistant manager at a Greene King pub before becoming area chef for the group. A number of pub roles around the country followed with Wizard Inns and Spirit Group, but an office job simply wasn't where Buttery wanted to be and he decided on a return to the kitchen. "I love the buzz and pressure of the kitchen and was never very good at dealing with customers complaining to me," says Buttery. In September 2004 he joined Beefeater as kitchen manager. He looks after a team of 12 and usually works from Wednesday to Sunday, 48 hours a week. The restaurant will do about 175 covers on its busiest days and is twinned with a Premier Travel Inn - both owned by Whitbread. Again, Buttery's love of training has been maintained in his new role, and he's undertaken four training courses in just six months to learn about flame-grilling. For other managers, his advice is simple. "Listen," says Buttery. "And accept you'll encounter staff who won't change their ways easily, which is where perseverance comes in." Career highlights 1996 Football, Football 2000 Fashion Café. Wins promotion to first head chef role 2004 Joins Beefeater as kitchen manager
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