01 January 2000

We want to do well - so encourage us

THERE are 40 students on my degree course at present and most of us are starting to wonder whether all this hard work is really worth the effort.

I am investing around £12,000 in my university education, I seem to have to study harder than a great deal of students on other courses, and I get disapproving looks from people when I tell them what degree I am doing (I gained good GCSEs and A levels so, as they see it, I should be doing a degree that will lead to a "proper" career).

It's a sad fact that the students on my course know, during the course of employment, that we will be taken advantage of, used and abused, earn a ridiculously low salary, never really be able to lead a "normal" family life, and so on. But we still all desperately want to make it in the world of hospitality. I love hotel life - I thrive on it, and I could never ever imagine myself doing anything else.

Every week in Caterer we read articles from top people in the industry who list their views on how to attract more people to the industry, how we must improve pay and working conditions and how proper training in the industry is the answer to everything. So why haven't any of these actually been acted upon?

I cannot comprehend why the industry has to carry on in the state it is in at present. It is very disheartening for those, like myself, who will be entering into employment in the next couple of years to see what a tangled mess we will be coming into.

Melanie James


University of Portsmouth.

hotels have top restaurants

I HEARTILY endorse the views expressed by Zoe Jenkins' letter "Don't forget the hotel restaurants" (Caterer, 1 April, page 18) and her comments are equally valid for those of us operating hotel restaurants outside London.

In our experience, many hotel restaurants not only display creativity, skill and imagination in their cooking, but consistently provide a superior standard of service and customer care that is lacking in so many of the fashionable establishments. Does anyone beg to differ?

Patricia Losel

General Manager,

Fredrick's Hotel and Restaurant,



smokescreens and statistics?

THE chief executive of No Smoking Day (NSD), Doreen McIntyre, wearily pleads innocent to the charge that her 24-hour beanfeast is not intended to stigmatise adult smokers, but fails to provide any substantial defence (Caterer, 11 March, page 16).

Rather, she deploys the familiar anti-smoker tactic of responding with bogus and misleading statistics. She refers to the million people who allegedly take part without providing evidence for the figures she parrots.

Some anti-smokers, however, are prepared to be honest about the flight of fancy that lies behind much of NSD's disinformation. After the 1995 NSD, Dr Geoffrey Fowler, then head of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund's general practice research group, accepted that claims that 40-50,000 people stopped smoking for good on NSD were no more than "guesstimates".

Ms McIntyre also claims that our organisation stands in the way of the alleged two-thirds of smokers who want to quit. This is not so. Forest defends the freedom to choose, and if smokers want to stop then we are happy for them to do so. The fact of the matter is that very few smokers who tell opinion pollsters they want to quit are actually undertaking to quit in the immediate future. Like many of us, they say one thing and do another.

It is time for NSD organisers to accept that their paternalistic philosophy has run out of puff. They should heed the advice of their own campaigning slogan to "Take the Plunge" and give this country's adult smokers a well-deserved break from further state-sponsored nagging.

Martin Ball

Campaigns director,


London SW1.

Some cause for questions to FEFC

AS FORMER chairman of a TEC, part-time Further Education Funding Council (FEFC) inspector, qualified teacher and training officer, examiner, moderator, and chairman of a university research panel, it can be reasonably assumed that as a company director in the hospitality industry I support training and education.

When Avril Willis (Caterer, 8 April, page 10) shoots the messenger over grade definitions it can be reasonably assumed there is something in the FEFC cupboard worth dragging out for debate. Anyone who has had proper training in evaluation of performance standards will quickly see that the FEFC grading system is flawed.

With no acknowledged mid-point on a five-point scale, the published definitions that are well known to myself and others in the "education trade" mean little to the non-specialist. What is more important is to take the FEFC's published grades as set up in my table (Caterer, 18 March, page 24) and address the issues thrown up by the FEFC. Could we have the answers to the following questions:

l Why are grades worse on average in 1997/98 than in the previous four years?

lWhy are self-assessment results so different to the usual inspection results?

l Why has the inspection system been changed?

l Why, in some recent college inspection reports, is no reference made to the previous report showing what progress if any has been made?

l Why is enrolment declining and attendance/retention so poor?

l What progress has been made towards achieving the national training targets?

l What does industry need to do to help colleges improve?

David Hutchins


West Midlands.

let grammar be a lesson to you

YOUR correspondent Carl Lindsay (Caterer, 1 April, page 19) should move to the USA where the influence of French grammar is less respected. The word "restaurant" does indeed come from the French to restore, the present participle (restoring) being restaurant. Restaurateur is purely the noun from the same source and is used in the artistic as well as the sustenance sense. Quite appropriate really.

Of course, it's easy to blame William the Conqueror for all this French influence, but then English is a mongrel language and the British a mongrel race.

John Jenkinson

The Evesham Hotel,



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