James Robson, managing director, Mews of Mayfair

The Staff Canteen
James Robson

James Robson discusses his role as managing director at Mews of Mayfair and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: James Robson

Place of work: Mews of Mayfair, Mayfair Pizza Co., Cartizze, La Cave

Role: Founder & Managing Director

Chef Skills

James Robson 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.

Was working within this field always something you wanted to do?

I used to be in finance and took a job in a bar at weekends for fun. I soon worked out what I preferred!

Was the goal always to start and own your own group?

The group no, but to own a place certainly. I am actually looking at getting involved in something smaller again so I can share advice of what we have learned along the way. There are lots of benefit and kudos when you reach our size but I miss some small personal elements of when you are a start-up/growing company.

Did you feel you had somewhere or someone to go to for advice when you were first considering your options?

I have a fantastic shareholder base full of wisdom. They have been a pool of advice and support along the way.

What would you say sets Mews apart?

The team and location off a cobbled tucked away mews in Mayfair. 

Starting in 2006 what challenges have you faced since then, have you noticed the competition increase around you?

Keeping going during the recession and with all the various knock-on-effects of the European issues has always been a financial challenge. But the more competition the better; it keeps you sharp.

What does your recruitment process involve?

 We now have a full time HR Manager so our process is much sharper than gut feeling which was what we relied on for the first few years. Word of mouth and personal recommendations are always the best. We are being approached via social media more and more.

What are you looking out for on a CV and in a candidate when they come for an interview?

Longevity. We look for people which have stuck with their positions for a minimum of a year and ideally two or three. I have no interest when people have three or four jobs on their CV for periods under twelve months.

If someone doesn’t have a large amount of experience but shows willingness and enthusiasm would you hire them?

Willingness, enthusiasm, a smile and a positive outlook will likely beat experience.

Have you noticed an increase in applicants or do you think there is a shortage of Chefs at the moment?

If you have a great Head Chef then I find the team follows. If you have a weak one it becomes almost impossible to hold a team.

If someone wanted to move within the group is this allowed or encouraged?

If they show potential then yes. It’s important it is treated as progression on both sides and not a rite of passage.

If you could go back and tell yourself one piece of advice, knowing what you know now, what would it be?

Have an exit strategy. The thought of selling is foreign to most that build their first businesses however this is key in the real world.

What top tips would you give to someone looking to follow in your footsteps?

It’s a cliché but you are as good as the team you surround yourself with.

Having ticked the cocktail bar box with Cartizze, what is next on the agenda? Is there a type of establishment that you haven’t yet tapped into but hoping to in the future?

We want to look at the casual dining sector in greater detail. What we do is great in Mayfair but simplicity is the key going forward.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th May 2017

James Robson, managing director, Mews of Mayfair