Chef Ryan Simpson-Trotman: 'I think I was a bit too harsh on the front of house before'

The Staff Canteen

Over the past few months, Chef Ryan Simpson-Trotman has retrained to head Orwells front of house whilst his husband, Liam Simpson-Trotman, continues to run the kitchen.

This change in role, which is the first time Ryan has stepped out of the kitchen since Orwells opened 11 years ago, comes as a result of the ongoing staff shortages that are affecting the industry and the fact that the restaurant no longer had a restaurant manager.

Ryan explained: "We'd had a restaurant manager for seven years and before that, we had one for five years. For us, it's difficult to replace somebody like that. So, when we did get people in to try to replace them, they just didn't work out and I just thought 'well, I've got good wine knowledge I should go out the front and see what it's like'."

"We're going through this staff crisis thing, at the minute, and it's been really difficult to get staff or to get the quality of staff we needed."

He added: "To be honest, I think front of house, for me at the moment, is almost completely impossible to find."

Changes made since moving to front of house?

Ryan has already made some changes to the operation since moving to the front-of-house team including the way they deliver the food to the tables and the development of the cocktail list.

Ryan said: "A change I implemented straight away, obviously being in the kitchen I would always sauce the food because I like to see it complete but now I do all the saucing at the table and 

"It's a better interaction with the guest because I was just putting the plates down before and I just thought 'hold on, we can be saucing it here and we can be giving it a little bit of theatre'. That really has made a massive difference."

Another side effect of moving to the front, Ryan found, was peace of mind. He said: "When you've got two business owners - one front, one back - Liam's got the reassurance that everything that's happening out the front is happening to the highest of standards because it's our business. Whereas before we would always be panicking because we are two chefs and we are trusting our baby with somebody in the front. Now we're attacking from both angles."

Ryan says he has a better understanding himself 'of 'the services', admitting: "I was a bit too harsh on the front of house before"

The change has clearly been a positive one, even if it came from the less than positive place of the staffing crisis and Ryan said: "I would definitely recommend [chefs try front of house]. I know chefs can be a bit antisocial and awkward, but we all love getting together at these award events and we all stand and chat so it's just like that really."

Attracting the next generation

While this change has worked for Orwells it hasn't solved the issues with the staffing crisis completely. One of the major issues Ryan discussed was the lack of younger people and how younger people don't seem to want to go into hospitality.

However, he did say that despite the staffing shortage, and even though it seems that younger people don't want to go into hospitality, he did have some great young people working for him.

"We've got to sell the industry to the kids, we need to show them that it is good fun that you meet people on a daily basis.

"I just think this industry has got a really bad reputation. It's got a reputation for being underpaid, a reputation for hard work and I just don't think the kids are buying into it. It's a hard one to crack. I don't think I have the solution, but, in everything I try to do, I try to push people into this industry and show that they can have a good career."


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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 23rd June 2022

Chef Ryan Simpson-Trotman: 'I think I was a bit too harsh on the front of house before'