David Mulcahy, Sodexo UK and Ireland

The Staff Canteen
David Mulcahy

David Mulcahy discusses his role as Culinary director at Sodexo UK and Ireland and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: David Mulcahy

Place of work: Sodexo UK and Ireland

Role: Culinary director. Responsible for menu development and people development across all areas within Sodexo UK and Ireland

Bio: Originally from Ireland, David Mulcahy trained to be a Chef before moving to the UK at 21. As an Executive Chef, David has worked in establishments ranging from select fine dining to major contract facilities with multiple outlets. David is now responsible for the culinary development and craft strategy at Sodexo and sits on the steering committee for the Future Chef competition. He is current Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and has won various awards including Culinary Olympic and World Cup Gold medals.

Follow David on Twitter here: @MulcahyDavid 

Chef Skills

David Mulcahy takes us through his personal experiences whilst being in the Culinary Industry. These key skills that young Chefs and industry professionals learn as part of their basic training.

How long have you been in this role?

Eight years.

What experience and how many years would someone need in order to progress to the top level of the industry?

This is very much dependant on the person and the context of their role. The hospitality industry is extremely diverse and as such there are different learning and development opportunities depending on the company concerned and their commitment to people development.

It is vital that a young person looking at career researchers the company they are applying to and understands what they can gain from working for them.

There should be a clear path for progression and a good framework for development. Progression is all about getting good foundations at the early stages of a career. Try to work with a mentor who takes a personal interest in your development. Take any training courses going and not just in cookery skills.

Managing finances, understanding legislation and working safely as well as personal development courses and leadership skills are essential along the way. A Head Chef, for instance, needs to be a good team leader, a people person, able to motivate and develop as well as manage a business. This knowledge does not come quickly or easily.

A good Head Chef will have at least 12 years’ experience if not more. And a good Head Chef needs to have a wide array of skills and excellent skills and knowledge base. This is definitely an industry where you learn something new every day. But you must be open to learning every day.

What are your ultimate top five tips for someone looking to start a career in the hospitality sector?

1. Make sure you get as much from school as possible before leaving. Having the core skills needed for life in the working world is extremely important.

2. Take good advice from positive careers advisors and go to a number of hospitality employers and learn about what kind of career to expect in different sectors.

3. Seek advice from colleges and training providers, apprenticeship programmes to decide which is the best route for you.

4. Start day 1 with a notebook, write your own bible and never stop using it. Ask questions and become a curious and inquisitive individual.

5. Embrace your career and work hard for your future and never stop having fun!

Who are the key Chefs and restaurants that someone should be speaking to and trying to gain experience with?

Everyone is different and depending on what you think works for you, speak to people in those establishments and companies. Go to the top and speak to the owners, managers or Chefs to get an insight. People employ people with great attitude and so knocking on the door and asking to work even for a day, will usually be welcomed.

What are you looking out for on a CV or in an interview if someone was applying to work with you?

Passion, enthusiasm and a genuine willingness to learn. A CV from a young person may not have much by way of work experience but even at the early stages, I would want to see what they did at school and outside of school. Taking part in activities, being part of a team or scout group and having taken part in the school activities. If interested in cooking as a career this should be reflected somewhere in their portfolio.

If they have some experience, it is interesting to see where they have worked and why they are moving on. Staying power, ability to cope under pressure or stressful circumstances and a real love of food, people and the industry they are planning to join.

Find a Chef Job

Whether you're an aspiring Chef soon to be leaving education, or you are an established Chef looking for a new culinary challenge, we have a variety of Chef roles to suit you;
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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th April 2017

David Mulcahy, Sodexo UK and Ireland