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Cartwright leaves the AA as guides become ‘stale'

26 February 2010 by
Cartwright leaves the AA as guides become ‘stale'

Former restaurant and hotel inspector Gordon Cartwright has left AA Hotel Services after more than a decade, having become disillusioned with the role guides play in supporting the hospitality industry.

Cartwright, who worked with the AA for 13 years, most recently as UK and overseas key account manager, has joined recruitment firm Regent as consultancy and enterprise director.

As part of his new role he has developed a psychometric test for chefs, which audits their culinary knowledge and skills and which he hopes will become a new benchmark for the hospitality industry.

The "Chef Factor" is an online profiling system linked to a matrix indicating the level a chef might work at within the industry. It is designed to assist the recruitment process without relying on a wider industry grading scheme such as the AA or Michelin.

Cartwright told Caterer that after 13 years with the AA he felt disillusioned with the role traditional guides played to promote and support the hospitality industry.

"Sadly the freshness of the information listed in an annual guide is more often worryingly stale as it takes at least a year to resource, six months to print and then will be on sale for a further year," he said. "Staff and management change frequently, investment takes place and times change. Any guide that is lazy and stale needs challenging."

Cartwright warned that while a grading system should provide paying establishments with business, information and an adequate rating, he felt that industry guides no longer supported the industry, but that the industry now supports the guides.

"The way forward for industry ratings lies in a self-assessment process which is overseen by organisations that do nothing else beyond check ratings," he added.

"There can be no spin-offs, commercial links or any other type of incentives or financial partnerships."

Has the AA lost its way? >>

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By Kerstin Kühn

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