Quality staff food at the Quality Chop House

What do staff mealtimes look like in one of the area’s best restaurants? Louise Stapley finds out

When tucking into a meal, it’s easy to forget restaurants are also workplaces. Eating is at the core of a hospitality business on both sides of the kitchen doors, and staff meals are at the very heart of a restaurant’s culture.

Our hospitality industry has faced a bit of a staffing crisis in recent years, driven partly by a perception problem with Brits failing to see it as a desirable career path. Combine that with the dreaded B-word deterring overseas workers, and it’s become challenging even for the big dogs to recruit and retain talent. An independent restaurant can’t compete with the snazzy benefits a big corporation might offer employees, but dedicating time and resource to feeding their team well can be a huge draw for workers, fuelling their passion for food, nurturing a strong team culture and saving staff money to boot. 

The Quality Chop House does this really well, so I went to crash one of their staff meals, where I enjoyed some spectacularly good fish ‘n chips.

Shaun Searley – Head Chef
“It’s just as important for me to get my staff – and myself – well fed on a balanced meal as it is to serve the guests well. The team work long shifts, and if you do that on a stomach that’s empty or full of sub- standard food, it has a knock-on effect on morale.

“Today we’re having fish and chips, yesterday we had sausage and mash. On Sundays we do a full roast, tucking into the same food as the guests.

“It’s a great chance for the more junior chefs to get stuck in and push their skill level, and for the whole kitchen to cook something other than what we usually serve. We used to have a British chef with a Filipino background, who would make everything from bao buns to sticky pork.”

Chris Madden – Front of House
“Sitting down together helps the team bond too. We communicate constantly during service, but it’s nice to sit around a table over a meal and talk about something other than what’s going on in the restaurant. Helping break down those barriers – especially between front-of-house and the kitchen teams – makes us a better working unit. I once worked somewhere where the front-of-house team would sit at one table and the kitchen staff at another, like two high-school cliques.

“Sunday roasts are great and a highlight of the week for all of us, with everyone winding down together over some fantastic food and some well-earned drinks.”