Meet the team: Michael Perry, Head of Hospitality

Meet the team: Michael Perry, Head of Hospitality

We caught up with our Head of Hospitality, Michael Perry, on his hospitality background and journey to Coople. We also got insights into his plans to shake up the industry, as well as his favourite drinking and dining spots in London.

Tell us a bit about yourself

Originally from Wolverhampton, a lovely town in the West Midlands, I have worked in 8 different cities in the UK.  I started out as a part-time barman while studying A-levels. I then went straight into full-time management with Revolution bars group in 2002 as Deputy GM and I worked my way up to GM, Area Manager and then Regional Operations Manager where I was responsible for 35 Revolution bars across England. As a result, I have personally experienced all aspects of operational challenges and pain points of management and recruitment within bars and restaurants.

What do you do at Coople?

I am responsible for driving new business in the bars and restaurants sector while supporting client’s needs with fast and effective account management. With my hospitality operations background, I provide solutions for clients in a fast and efficient manner to minimise the impact on their operations.

What do you love about your job?

I am passionate about people, the industry and growing people’s careers through people management and being able to do that at Coople is great. I love the energy of a start-up company, everyone has the same passion and the same drive to change how the world works. Our technology and offering not only helps people get access to flexible work but also supports our clients by sourcing affordable flexible staff on-demand.

What is something you want to deal with and fix within the hospitality industry?

As recruitment challenges get tougher in the industry, I want Coople to partner with as many businesses as possible to help support the industry to help them maximise revenues by filling temporary roles.

What interests do you have outside of work?

I am a Chelsea fan. I enjoy following the football and taking in all that London has to offer.

Favourite place to eat, favourite place to drink in London?

Favourite place to eat in London: Hakkasan
Favourite place to drink: A good traditional London pub

We also spoke to our Head of Training and Quality Assurance, Ignat Kostadinov, on his background and journey to Coople. Click here to read Ignat’s story.

Introducing Ali: a man with ambition

Introducing Ali: a man with ambition

Ali started the Hospitality Futures programme after being unemployed for over six months. With a young family to support, Ali was feeling under pressure to find something that would not only lead to a secure and rewarding career but also have the flexibility he required to manage his family commitments. As he didn’t have much work experience or a university degree, he began to feel a bit desperate about his situation and future.

It was in September 2017 at his local job centre that he came across the opportunity to be on The Springboard Charity Hospitality Futures Programme. Hospitality was an industry he had never considered before, but he thought the programme sounded exciting and so he quickly signed himself up.

Ali performed amazingly and sailed through the programme. With his confident but inclusive personality, he was a positive influence on everyone around him. Indeed, it was evident that his naturally bubbly personality and sunny disposition made him a great fit for the industry.

At the end of the programme, Ali had to decide where he wanted to do his work placement, and he decided that he wanted to try food and beverage service, as the inter-personal aspect and practical nature of the job really appealed to him. It was then that he discovered Coople, Europe’s largest on-demand staffing platform – who is a corporate patron of The Springboard Charity – to find flexible jobs in hospitality that he required to support his family.

While working flexibly with Coople, Ali had the opportunity to increase the breadth of his experience by working in different positions in a couple of London high-end hotels, top event venues and renowned restaurants and bars. Ali did especially well with one of Coople’s clients, a 5-star London hotel, and was able to secure a flexible rota to work with that client on a more regular basis, ensuring that perfect time balance between work and family commitments.

He has since been working consistently for over 6 months, honing his customer skills and increasing his experience. Ultimately the roles he has been performing on behalf of Coople have provided him with the chance to support his family whilst also beginning a career where he can thrive. Indeed, Ali continues to flourish as a great success story and has been a regular source of positive feedback from Coople’s clients.

National Waiters’ Day 2018

National Waiters’ Day 2018

National Waiters’ Day has come and gone. We got the pleasure of meeting First Dates star, Austin Ventour, take part in the waiters’ race and test people on their cocktail making skills. It was a great day to get out and meet the amazing people who make hospitality such an amazing industry to work in.

National Waiters’ Day, founded by Fred Sirieix in partnership with the hospitality charity Springboard, was set up with the idea of celebrating the many opportunities for development and the calibre of staff providing excellent service within the hospitality industry. All the proceeds from the event go back to grassroots to support Springboard’s Food and Beverages programme which helps inspire and educate students who seek a career in hospitality.

Seasoned waiters and waitresses were invited to the event to showcase their skills in the professional waiters’ race and to speak with attendees about their personal experiences within the industry. Hospitality is an inclusive industry and it was great to see people from all walks of life attending and taking part in the day. As one of the many employers exhibiting at the event, we were impressed by the hunger displayed by job seekers.

Count us in for next year!

Click here for our waiter and waitress jobs.

In partnership with Springboard

Staffing Industry Analyst’s inaugural ‘Collaboration in the Gig Economy’ conference and Dragons’ Den

Staffing Industry Analyst’s inaugural ‘Collaboration in the Gig Economy’ conference and Dragons’ Den

Last week, the Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) launched their inaugural ‘European Collaboration in the Gig Economy’ conference. As Europe’s largest on-demand staffing platform, Coople was extremely pleased to attend the coveted event. Our founder, Viktor Calabro, was chosen to be one of the four Dragons for the gig economy Dragons’ Den, voting for the start-up they deemed to have the most chances of success within the sector.

Collaboration in the Gig Economy Conference

John Nurthen, SIA’s Executive Director of Global Research, kicked off the one-day event:

It’s great to see the world’s largest buyers of contingent labour come together with the supplier community to spend a day exploring ways to collaborate and improve the talent supply chain. This event recognises that wherever you are in that supply chain we can best succeed by empathising and supporting each other.”

Following the keynote panel, SIA President Barry Asin spoke about how the £2.5 trillion gig economy is all about connecting work with workers in a more responsive and flexible way. He said human cloud firms such as Uber have proved that if you “make it easy for people, they will work.” By drastically shortening and simplifying the recruitment process, Coople has also created the possibility for people to find work flexibly in a legal and sustainable way through the platform, where once staff are fully registered, they can simply accept or decline a job notification without the need for long interviews. With flexible staff increasingly wanting autonomy to decide when and where they work, large and small organisations are having to rethink their recruitment processes, looking to offer flexibility all whilst drastically speeding up the response speed at which they fill their jobs.

The Gig Economy Dragons’ Den

To round up the day, the attendees converged on the highlight event of the conference, the gig economy Dragons’ Den. Staffing Industry Analysts chose Dragons which are leaders and influential figures in the world of the gig economy.

The Dragons

  • Viktor Calabrò, founder, Coople
  • Kelly Griffith,  Head of The Adecco Group X UK&I
  • Kevin Green, CEO, What’s Next Consultancy
  • Bryan Pena, SVP, Contingent Workforce Strategies, CCWP, Staffing Industry Analysts

Providing a great opportunity for each start-up to gain valuable exposure amongst industry leaders, the Dragons listened and judged pitches from a range of innovative gig economy start-ups. The hopeful gig economy newcomers also got the chance to win the very first European Collaboration in the Gig Economy Innovation Award. Pitching under the gaze of the Dragons, the contenders had five pressurised minutes to present their business case of why they thought their business had the greatest potential to succeed within the Gig Economy. Although the finalists had very limited time to introduce and explain their business case, all the pitches were well received and got a round of applause from the audience. After careful consideration, the Dragons crowned their favourite, the staff management software Sirenum as the winner of the European Collaboration in the Gig Economy Innovation Award 2018.

Viktor praised Sirenum’s victory by saying,

“Their go to market strategy was so defined and clearly presented that I believe they have what it takes to take their idea and make a huge success of it.”


Meet the Masters: Chef, Michael Dutnall MCA

Meet the Masters: Chef, Michael Dutnall MCA

Welcome to our latest content series ‘Meet the Masters’ where we interview experts across the hospitality industry. In our first edition, we interview the well-renowned Chef, Michael Dutnall MCA of the Royal Air Force Club, Mayfair to understand what drives him after so many years in the kitchen and how he perceives the industry of today.

Michael Dutnall MCA

Michael is the Head Chef of the prestigious Royal Air Force Club in Mayfair, London. He has over 20 years of experience in the industry and has cooked alongside world-class Chefs, Michel Bourdin, Herbert Berger and Jerome Ponchelle MCA. Michael is also one of 25 people to have ever been accredited in the Master Culinary of Arts (MCA) for culinary skills; it is known as one of the toughest disciplines in the industry.

What made you want to become a Chef?

Honestly, it was an afternoon cooking with my nan or either my mother. That would have been predominantly baking cakes; Victoria sponges, fairy cakes or something like that.

How did you get your break in the industry?

I was very fortunate, I got employed as an apprentice at the Connaught Hotel, Mayfair. It was luck of the draw, I really landed on my feet, I was a 16-year-old kid coming straight out of school. I didn’t know any different and I think that was kind of fortunate going into an environment like the Connaught that you don’t know any different.

The apprenticeship was five years. So, three years of that was aimed at your training. You’re doing your paperwork at college while you work your way around the sections of the kitchen. As an apprentice I would work on the veg section, then larder, then fish, then sauce and then to the butchery and pastry. Those days it was also in your apprenticeship to do service as well.

That’s your first three years, the final two years includes such things as polishing. By that stage, you are in charge and you need to be leading from the front. You have built up your knowledge and you warrant yourself to be there, it’s what the apprenticeship leads to.

What are your views on the attitudes and quality of Chefs in the industry today?

Going from the Connaught to Herbert Berger, it was a good move, because it was a culture shock to me. I went there with some arrogance because I came from the Connaught and I was some golden child and thought I was going to be better than everyone else even though, I was a First Commis and had only done 5 years in the industry. I got taken down a peg or two and rightly so by everybody there.

I think what is more apparent in the industry now is not the attitude, but the lack of knowledge everybody seems to have. If for example, I finished five years of service as a Commis and if you speak to someone that has done 5 years now, they are looking for Junior Sous Chef positions. Is it right? Is it wrong? I’m not necessarily the one to answer that but when I bring people in my kitchen, I try to keep them engaged and infused with learning, being watchful of them not climbing the ladder too quickly.

“Once you get to the top of the ladder, you are learning from beneath you and learning from beneath is a lot slower than from above.” 

Once you get to the top of the ladder, you are learning from beneath you and learning from beneath is a lot slower than from above. If I look at myself now, I am only learning from the team beneath me or what I read in cookbooks. Whereas before I had a whole team of people above me who each of them from their own different backgrounds were teaching me something different.

At what point in your career were you concerned with recruitment?

It was my first Head Chef role when I was first involved with recruitment. I had to think about wages and who would apply. I think it’s about progressing through your career and having a holistic view of everything. When I was a Sous Chef I would focus on how to run the kitchen when the Head Chef was not there and general giving orders throughout the kitchen.

How does the recruitment of Chefs differ from other professions?

Depending on the position, the interview process is very different throughout the ranks. For apprentices, you are looking for attitude rather than skill level, because I don’t expect them to know anything. I expect them to come with a clean fresh mind willing to learn. Then from a Commis Chef, I would expect them to have done their college, their NVQ level 2 and 3 and for them to have a good foundation, and again willing to learn. As you start moving up, the expectation from an employer’s side as well as the interview process is enhanced. If it was a Commis Chef they would do a day in the kitchen and I would be looking at attitude and how they hold themselves in a kitchen. Then moving up to a Demi Chef I am expecting them to cook a few things, whether they can cook steaks to the correct temperatures and so on. Can they fillet fish? At Chef de Partie, I will start asking the leadership questions as well as cooking a dish. For Sous Chefs it would be a longer trial, and there would be an interview with HR, as well myself. At that level, it’s about whether the job is right for not only the company but also for them. I like to keep a close-knit team that has an understanding that we are all on the same page. This is what we expect, we are together, we are bonded, and that’s what I need at that level.

I’d rather employ someone with less of a desirable CV background, but the willingness to learn with the right attitude than someone with the best CV in the world, but has a terrible attitude.

“I’d rather employ someone with less of a desirable CV background, but the willingness to learn with the right attitude than someone with the best CV in the world, but has a terrible attitude.”

What is the best way for a Chef to climb the career ladder?

There is a balance to be had, I believe quite strongly that when I look at a CV and I see six months here and nine months there, I stop reading it as it shows the candidate has no stability or loyalty to where he’s worked. Throughout my career of 21 years, I had six jobs. In some industries that sounds like a lot of jobs and in the catering trade it really isn’t. Anywhere I have worked I have done no less than two years because two years gives you the opportunity to work your way around each of the kitchens. The makeup of any Chef is their past experiences. If you don’t spend long enough at each of the establishments, you don’t get to be in the same mindset of the Chef that is running the place, you don’t get to take a piece of them away with you. At the end of the day that is my make up now. I’m a little bit of Michel Bourdin and I am a little bit of Herbert Berger, Martin Green and Jerome Ponchelle and that is me. They are the Chefs that has made me the Chef that I am today.

Is there space in the industry for flexible Chef work?

Yes, it is a very tough one. Certainly here we are very lucky, I have the backing of the CEO and of the Trustee’s to eradicate split shifts so that we don’t do them anymore but for a group of chain restaurants that need to adjust their workforce to cope with busy and quiet periods can have Chefs with knowledge to NVQ level 2 and 3 do shifts within their restaurants in the West End on the weekend and vice versa to deal with peaks and lulls. That would be a fantastic position to be in for the employer. Would it be a fantastic position for the employee? I suppose it gives them the flexibility to adjust their working hours and where and when they are working, so it could work both ways.

Where is the best place to become a Chef?

London is a great place and it is made great by its diversity. Is it the best place in the country, with the best restaurants? You would be ignorant to say that because there are so many other great places to work outside of London. But for diversity, I don’t think you can beat London. I am sure you can eat out in London every night of the month and not eat the same food twice, and at the same level of quality. There is so much diversity and so many different cultures and cuisines, it’s amazing, it really is. For any would-be-chef, the opportunity is here. There is more demand from a large variety of establishments to gain experience.

“London is a great place and it is made great by its diversity… for any would-be-chef, the opportunity is there.”

What is your number one tip for an aspiring Chef?

In essence, to be a sponge. Soak up as much knowledge as you can and listen. Listening is so important and to do that you need to enjoy what you do. If you don’t enjoy it there is no point in doing it. You need to be passionate about it and love what you do, this will take you places.

Find Chef work with Coople

Coople are partnered with many highly regarded hospitality clients and offer a range of flexible Chef jobs in London.

Keep up to date with the RAF Club on Facebook and Twitter.

One in five millennials have two or more jobs

One in five millennials have two or more jobs

New research from Europe’s largest flexible jobs marketplace, Coople, reveals British millennials are a generation of career jugglers, seeking varied lifestyles and accelerated multi-skilled growth, undertaking multi-jobs.

The survey of 2,000 employed people in the UK, carried out by OnePoll and commissioned by Coople, reveals the growing “slash/slash culture” trend, where workers handle more than one – and often wildly different – job simultaneously. The survey shows:

19% of employed millennials have two or more jobs, more than any other generation.

Some of the main reasons cited by millennials for taking on multi-jobs include to learn new skills (47%) and for variety and experience (27%). By comparison, older generations put more onus on increased earnings when stating their purpose for working within multiple roles.

Additionally, the research reveals 1 in 3 young professionals plan on changing industry within the next two years. 13% intend to change industries within the next year.

The findings show the majority of employed 18-24 year olds (37%) have already worked in two other industries prior to their current sector, further underlining a propensity to switch jobs and develop skillsets within this age-group. The percentage of younger people working in multiple industries is much higher than any other age group. It also means that on paper, the average 24 year old has more experience across multiple industries than someone 20 years their senior.

Coople’s research reveals that 48% of millennials say a positive work-life balance is a primary factor for their professional happiness, the highest of any age group.

One of the factors often cited as contributing to a positive work-life balance is flexible working.

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