Food Service Academy | Leah Robb

How long have you been in the industry?

Let’s just say more than 30 years! I started young!!

How did you begin your journey in the hospitality industry?

My mum worked in a local restaurant and one night the Kitchen Porter didn’t show up, mum got me in to wash the dishes and as I did such a good job it turned into a regular weekly job. I was 12. I earned £6 per shift. I later progressed to preparing starters and desserts and when I was 15, I ventured out to the front of house as a drinks runner. I found my niche on the floor as I absolutely loved chatting with guests, I also made loads of tips which as a teenager was great…I saved up and once a month went into town shopping! Until I left school I worked every Friday night, played hockey every Saturday morning headed straight to work afterwards and crammed my homework on a Sunday! The day I completed my last GCSE when I was 16, I started working full-time in the same place and have worked full-time in the Hospitality Sector ever since.

Could you tell us a little more about your professional background – what fuelled your interest in this sector?

Once I started working full-time, I progressed to the Food & Beverage Service side of things. I always chose to work in the best restaurants at the time, picking up from more experienced colleagues as I went along. I think in the early years of my career the stigma attached to waiting on tables was beginning to shift and a job within the Hospitality Industry became a viable career choice. As a ‘people person,’ I was right where I wanted to be working alongside some amazing people and meeting new people every day. I love the sense of fulfilment when guests leave the restaurant having had an amazing dining experience. I have always been passionate about the guest experience and believe I have a keen eye for detail. Alongside my job I constantly made it my business to better myself academically in conjunction with my job, I attended over the years many courses and classes. I hold an advanced certificate in WSET Wine and Spirits and, I have an NVQ Level 3 in Restaurant Supervision to name a few.

What is your favourite part of the job?

I love that my job is so diverse. No two days are the same...I love to see my teams grow in confidence as they gain new skills, their interaction with our guests, and seeing guests return to the Resort because of the hospitality we provide. It's great to be working with kitchen and front-of-house teams alike, as I've always enjoyed the challenges and fast-paced environment that Hospitality is renowned for.

Proudest moment of your career to date?

I think when I won Supplier of the Year from the Institute of Hospitality in 2019. At this stage in my career, I had been working as a Key Accounts Manager for Robb Brothers Wine Merchants for 4 years. During this time, it was not just my job to sell wine, I had to write bespoke wine lists for different clients and if successful I then had to provide training for the team. This job role had its challenges but was also very rewarding. It was so interesting, and a real learning curve understanding the wishes and needs of different clients ranging from Michelin Star Restaurants, Fine Dining Restaurants, Casual Restaurants, Country Pubs, Family Run Businesses to Corporate Hotels. It added another dimension for me as I was used to seeing everything from the eyes of the guest. 

What skills will a student gain from this course?

How to work as part of a team and what that really means, along with the skills and confidence needed to work as a food & beverage assistant in a food & beverage outlet. Skills such as food & wine matching, food & wine service, Managing Allergens, Sales skills, Health & Safety procedures and everything in between! 

Why should you apply for this course?

If you’re a people person thinking about embarking on a career within the Hospitality Industry, this is the course for you! Upon completion, you will have gained a well-rounded overview of what 5-star Food Service should be, and the confidence needed to provide it.

Describe a typical day for a student.  

It will be a rewarding day with a mixture of group discussion and interaction, some online learning, plenty of practical skill development and a little theory.