Loving Life in Hospitality – Richard Tiley, secondary school development chef, Pabulum

19 October 2012
Loving Life in Hospitality – Richard Tiley, secondary school development chef, Pabulum

As part of the Think Again campaign, Janie Manzoori-Stamford asks Richard Tiley why he loves his career in hospitality

How did you find your way into the hospitality industry?

For as long as I can remember, my dream has been to become a chef and, being a typical boy, growing up I was also fascinated by anything to do with conflict and war. The Falklands War inspired me and I decided to combine these twin passions by joining the army as a combat chef.

Did anyone try to put you off?

The careers adviser at the Army Recruitment Centre tried to persuade me that I'd be much better off joining the infantry. At the time, this was an acknowledged means of keeping up manning levels in the local regiments, but I was determined to be a chef. There was a constant refrain during all my interviews of "You don't want to be a chef. All those early starts. You'll be up before everyone else and finishing after they are all having fun…" They fell on deaf ears, though!

What are you doing now and how did you get there?

After I left the army I wanted to go back to basics. I was fortunate to briefly work as a chef manager and development chef in business and industry, which gave me the insight into civilian catering and hospitality.

Then I was approached by Pabulum to mobilise a brand new school and become their executive chef manager. That was a success and fortunately Pabulum recognised my capabilities and career aspirations, and promoted me to the role of secondary school development chef.

Did you know right away this industry was for you?

I always knew that I wanted to work in catering. It has been my love and passion for as long as I can remember and I have never doubted it was the right industry for me. I have, however, questioned whether business and industry was the right market for me to work in - and as a result have found myself where I am today.

What training opportunities have you been given?

The army provided some great opportunities for training during my 24 years in service. Every level of development focused on craft-based training and management training, which enabled me to achieve qualifications with City & Guilds, NVQ/NVQ Assessor Awards, Management Diplomas, NEBOSH Health & Safety and Advanced Food Hygiene.

The training opportunities with Pabulum take the form of shadowing senior members of the team and on the job training, which provides a great path to experience and a wealth of knowledge. The team has been brilliant in giving me the support and opportunity to carry out tasks myself and learn by experience.

What's the most rewarding day you've had in your career?

There have been many, but perhaps the most satisfying was receiving a General's Commendation for the duties I performed in Bosnia that were above and beyond the rank expected of me.

What do you love most about your job?

Customer satisfaction through the service I provide, as an individual and a team member. The teamwork, trust, loyalty and friendships you can build in catering are very special.

Do you think TV shows help or hinder when it comes to recruiting new young talent to the industry?

I'm not sure that the TV shows always paint a realistic picture of catering, but if they inspire a new generation to come into the industry, then that's a good thing as every industry needs new talent to keep it energised and moving forward.

Would you recommend the industry to others?

Definitely. It's challenging and hard work but very satisfying.


Richard Tiley, 43

  • 2003 master chef, British Army
  • 2008 regimental catering warrant officer, British Army
  • 2009 chef manager/development chef, Covion
  • 2009 executive chef manager, Pabulum
  • 2012 secondary schools development chef, Pabulum


Loving Life in Hospitality is a new series of interviews with young hospitality professionals who have started at the bottom and risen through the ranks quickly. It is part of Caterer and Hotelkeeper's Think Again campaign, which aims to show young people, teachers and career advisers the excellent career opportunities that exist in the hospitality sector.

By Janie Stamford

E-mail your comments to Janie Stamford here.

If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.catererandhotelkeeper.com/tabletalk

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