Lloyd Mann is the director of food at contract caterer Vacherin.
Lloyd Mann always knew he would be a chef. "For as far back as I can remember I never wanted to be anything else," he says. "So it's turned out quite nicely."
He kicked off his career as an apprentice in the kitchens at petroleum giant Shell's head office in London, before being taken on full time. Mann quickly progressed to the role of sous chef but his rolling contract came to an end due to the sale of the building.
"My head chef put me in touch with Baxter & Platt and that's how I got into contract catering," he explains.
Over the next few years Mann gathered experience working in staff restaurants, hospitality and fine-dining areas of various business and industry contracts. In particular, he welcomed the training and time invested in his career by his employers, which led him to become more involved in project work.
Mann went on to his first head chef role with Charlton House, where he was very happy to continue working.
"I knew I would only leave to join an independent caterer of the right size; one that would give me the freedom to develop both myself and the company," he says.
In 2008 Mann seized an opportunity, and joined city caterer Vacherin as director of food.
HIGHS… The first tender process Mann took part in was with Baxter & Platt for a contract with Citigroup.
"It was a real eye-opener to see all the work that gets done before we even set foot in the kitchen," Mann explains.
"It was a daunting but very good experience, because unbeknownst to me, I was to be the hospitality chef if we won the contract, which we did."
Some of the highest points in Mann's career have stemmed from the people he says he has been fortunate enough to work with. He has stayed in touch with colleagues from every stage of his career, some of whom now work with him at Vacherin.
"I've worked with very good people with very high standards, who have taken me under their wing" he says.
In particular, Mann is grateful for the guidance he received from his first head chef, John Hayes.
"I was young and impressionable, but John kept me on the straight and narrow and made sure I kept moving and learning," he recalls.
"When I was buying my first home he even put me in touch with a mortgage adviser."
LOWS… Hayes was also involved in Mann's lowest point, when he almost gave up on his fledgling career before it had a chance to launch.
"I was 16 when I started at Shell and John worked me into the ground. He was on my case all the time and I started to think it wasn't going to work out," Mann recalls. "I was gutted because it was all I wanted to do."
The constant workload led Mann to feel he wasn't improving, but a frank conversation with another chef soon sorted him out.
"He gave me a bit of smack around the head, told me to shut up and get on with it," he laughs.
In February 2009, Mann and his Vacherin team were working on a new high profile contract at a London law firm. The weekend before the launch was spent finalising everything to the last detail but come Monday morning London was under several inches of snow.
"No one got in. I was literally on my own in the kitchen," Mann recalls.
"Fortunately only 50 clients had made it in and I ran a limited service, but it was soul-destroying. We'd worked so hard to get the contract off with a bang."
Family Married, with three daughters
Favourite holiday Fuerteventura
Drives Suzuki SV650 motorbike
Motto Never sacrifice your standards
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