Let them eat cake!

Everybody’s got to eat, right? So it would be safe to assume that this would be an industry that would be growing (because there are more and more mouths to feed) and that it’s an industry that guarantees customers everyday! So why don’t more people get involved in order to find something to do?

Probably because it’s jolly hard work. Watch any episode of Masterchef and see what has to be done to develop from scratch, and then present something people will pay for. And watch how hectic it gets in the professional kitchens with demanding chefs and even more demanding customers. Then think about doing all that six or seven days a week, at nights and on holidays and then wonder about your social and family life.

Confectionery Collage

But many will argue that not all the hospitality industry is like Masterchef, or The Great British Menu. They would be correct – but even the small tavern down the road that serves up some lovely pies and fish-n-chips still has that degree of being on duty when everyone else is watching the Boat Race, or heading off to Cornwall for the weekend, or popping off to Paris to experience a walking tour of Versailles. Jon Rutter and his team of stocktakers meet regularly with their customers who can testify to the feeling of staying behind while others skip off to enjoy themselves in Europe. Jon’s group helps their restaurant and pub customers plan and prepare with careful and sustained strategies to keep them the sort of establishment that makes others want to skip over to them instead to enjoy themselves. They are part of this competitive and demanding industry called “hospitality.”

However, if you were to examine the rise in popularity of shows like The Great British Bake Off and the inspiration that the show has been to some people, the “food and hospitality” arena has taken on another dimension. There is a resurgence in homebakes, cupcakes and confectionery. The Office of National Statistics has indicated that independent bakeries in the UK grew by more than 5% last year (and that’s only talking about those that reached the VAT threshold). Cup cakes, for example, are becoming more popular at weddings than the traditional 3-tier cake. The wonderful thing about baking is that it can be done at home and delivered virtually when it’s convenient for the baker. They can still catch Eurostar to Paris if they plan correctly. And Gordon won’t be shouting at them about getting the 75 “cupcakes on the pass, right ******* now!”

One of the problems with baking is the “health brigade.” That group of doctors and dieticians who go on about sugar, flour and carbohydrates and how they are contributing to the rise of diabetes. That debate is a whole other ball-game in itself, but whatever you eat, there is a group that would approve and another that would disapprove. For example: some say butter is bad margarine is good … and then those who say that marg. is plastic and artificial while butter is best; cook in oil – avoid it like the plague! Chefs, bakers, amateur cooks, pub owners et al will always have someone against what they serve.

The bottom line is that people will eat what they like, and if they like cupcakes – give it to them!

(PS: There is a time and place for everything though, I found out recently. Serving cupcakes and Earl Grey to some friends while watching the ManU v Chelsea match saw the cakes bombarding the flat screen when Petr Cech performed his acrobatics on Hernandez‘ header. The one time I’m just glad I hadn’t served spareribs.)