Jeremy Ford, 32, group executive head chef - hospitality for Restaurant Associates, moved across to contract catering eight years ago and isn't going back.
One thing that grates with me is the fact that many people still focus on carving careers in restaurants and hotels when in fact there are such great training opportunities in contract catering.
There's certainly a big shift in chefs coming over from restaurants. I've worked at the Michelin-starred Chez Nico and with Brian Turner in the past, but I've been at Roux Fine Dining [part of Restaurant Associates] for eight years now and I can't see myself going back to restaurants.
I've been group chef for six months, coaching and motivating unit chefs across 50 accounts. They then go back to train their own teams. Once a month I hold a head chefs' forum when we get together to discuss issues and find out what's happening in the market. I invite suppliers along to talk about ingredients and their provenance. We recently took 10 chefs to Rungis market outside Paris and often visit the farms that supply herbs and vegetables to our restaurants.
Albert Roux supports us. For instance, he arranges stages for chefs at Le Gavroche under Michel Roux Jnr. Our parent company Compass has a partnership with Gary Rhodes, so we also train at Rhodes Twenty Four restaurant in the City and offer three-day in-house training courses on subjects such as fish preparation.
We often recruit chefs at 18 straight from college, although those on industry placements from Bournemouth & Poole College are as young as 16. We also take on chefs who haven't been to college and they then get the chance to take NVQs in house or at college.
Restaurant Associates is part of Compass Group. Contact 01932 573 000 or log on to www.compass-group.com/careers.