Jody Gillet, chef-manager, Lanesborough Prep School, Surrey

24 November 2005
Jody Gillet, chef-manager, Lanesborough Prep School, Surrey

Jody Gillett, 24
What? Chef-manager
Where? Lanesborough Prep School, Guildford, Surrey
Which company? The Brookwood Partnership

What's your remit?
I've got five staff in the kitchen and we feed 350 pupils aged from four to 13, plus 50 staff. My main task is to provide a healthy, balanced diet, so 95% of the food is freshly prepared, which I enjoy. As well as cooking, I have to manage a tight budget, monitor staffing and organise the kitchen. Schools also hold functions - I recently did a ball for 250 people, for example.

Why did you want the job? I started with Brookwood 18 months ago. What attracted me was the fact they cook fresh food. I simply learnt from good chefs on the job. As a youngster I worked in our family-owned coffee shop and went on to cook in nursing homes and a pub kitchen. I find schools the most rewarding.

So you didn't go to college? No. Brookwood is sponsoring me to take an NVQ.

How do you rate contract catering against pubs and restaurants? I've worked in pubs where the long hours make people ratty. Contract caterers have better hours and because they grow by winning contracts, there's always scope to develop your career.

And you really work only school hours? Yes. I'm there 7.30am-3pm, and no weekends. My wages take into consideration the lengthy school holidays but they're still good and I have the option of working overtime in other units.

So where next? A big challenge would be to look after double the number of students, say 800, and then move into operations management.

The Brookwood Partnership has 44 units, mainly in the South-east. Contact founder Sue Parfett on 01932 233 299 or log on to

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