My worst job – Peter Chan

03 July 2009 by
My worst job – Peter Chan

Peter Chan, sommelier, Royal China Club, London

What has been your worst job?

The worst job I ever had was working in a convenience store in Paddington when I was 18.

What was so bad about it?

I arrived on the day and was told my job entailed stacking the shelves, pricing the products and keeping an eye out for shoplifters. The directions ended there, and I was left to carry on as I saw fit.

What ensued was a nightmare experience. Without any instructions, I ended up labelling everything with the wrong price-tag, as some products include VAT and some don't. I was given a 15-minute dinner break, for which I had to buy food from the shop. I ended up with cold chicken, as I found out there was no microwave.

At 9pm, when things got busy, I was told to look out for shoplifters. The manager started giving me strange hand signals which I interpreted as people guilty of shoplifting, which resulted in me grabbing and accusing innocent people. The job lasted one evening, and the next day, I made the wise decision just not to go back. I figured it was worth the lost money to end my career within the convenience store industry right then and there.

What did you learn from the job?

It taught me how important staff training is. As a manager now, I make sure I properly instruct new staff and make them feel comfortable with what they are doing. I learned how daunting a job can be when you don't fully understand the details of your role and I would never put anyone in the position I was in.

What is the best bit of your current role?

I cannot imagine a better role. I adore wine-tasting, and I love the interaction with guests.

I have been flown to Italy and France to taste wines, and it is my passion to match wines with food.

Pairing Chinese cuisine with wine is a bit different than with other foods, and I love the challenge.

What's next?

I would love to see another Royal China Club open and, of course, it would be a dream come true to oversee it.

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