Thursday 12th October 2023
Showground, Wadebridge

Tom Hunter Leads The Way In New Chefs Work/Life/Surf Balance

Cornwall’s Red Hotels unveils innovative new recruitment and kitchen staffing system strategies.

Red Hotels, owner of the Scarlet and Bedruthan recently announced the promotion of Tom Hunter, previously the Scarlet’s Head Chef, to the Executive Head of both properties. As a result, Tom has immediately created a new groundbreaking set of kitchen shift, staffing and production processes. This means that chefs within his teams start to experience the enigmatic work/life balance which is generally amiss across the industry at large. An accompanying new recruitment programme will also offer potential chefs, and their friends or partners, a relaxing night’s stay in the Bedruthan Hotel.

Born and trained in London, Tom himself moved to Cornwall to take up the Scarlet mantel four years ago.  Driven by the unique philosophy of the hotel but also by the Cornish out of work lifestyle, it is this lifestyle ‘sustainability’ that lies at the heart of Tom’s new strategies.

Tom says, “Nobody chooses life as a chef if they want an easy, 9-5 job and 15 hour shifts are not an uncommon practice. However, as a family man, I want to achieve balance in my life.   I’m also of the firm belief that enjoying life away from work means you are clearly more focussed and committed within work.  This is also part of the Red Hotels’ philosophy and this is why I’m determined to create and drive a team that also has the opportunity to make the most of their lives, and their careers, in this way.”

The feeling of calmness, rather than high stress levels, within Tom’s kitchens is palatable.  To drive this further, Tom has also created an industry first-of-its-kind, shorter shift system.  Under this regime, his chefs will work no more than a 45 hour week.  They’ll also be paid desirable and competitive industry salaries.

Tom says, “All chefs will be contracted to 45 hours a week over five days.  There will also be a mixture of shift patterns across the two hotels, ensuring that everyone has two days off a week. To make all this happen, it is true that, we will probably be employing more chefs than other similar operations.  However, I have also introduced a new prep or production kitchen to ease the pressures on the service kitchens in both hotels.”

Tom continues, “This new kitchen addition will take care of time consuming jobs such as bread baking, which is made in the morning, and stocks, which are made last thing at night. This will allow the chefs to come in later in the morning and also leave earlier in the evening, ensuring we meet the target of shifts of no longer than nine hours at a time.”

The newrecruitment strategy also invites potential chefs and kitchen team members to spend the night, with a friend or partner, at the Bedruthan Hotel.  This way, potential team members will also enjoy the experiences so they can understand it all from a guest’s perspective, and also experience the company vision at all levels.  This kind of ‘special’ treatment is generally only offered as part of the recruitment process for head chefs or senior staff.

Red Hotel Owner, Emma Stratton, says, “Tom has done such a great job with the Scarlet kitchen.  He’s built an award-winning team that is constantly driving a full set of sustainability principles through a thriving business proposition.  Yet he’s constantly delivering the very highest of standards to our restaurant guests. We are delighted to see that now he is our Executive Chef, he’s bucking the damaging trend of long, long hours in the industry. His restructuring of the brigade and the new ways of working will deliver creative dishes for our three great restaurants and events operation. Everyone at Red Hotels feels strongly that all our teams need to have time to enjoy life, playing and relaxing in the beautiful county of Cornwall.”