Peter Joyner, Food Development Director, Elior UK

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 15th July 2014
Peter Joyner   Peter Joyner is Food Development Director at contract catering firm, Elior UK. With more than 30 years in the industry he has covered some of the biggest events in the UK from Wimbledon to Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. He has taken part in and won numerous competitions including the Culinary Olympics, La Parade des Chefs and the culinary world cup and has also been a chef trainer for the UK World Skills team. He has recently joined forces with Callebaut to train Elior staff in creating chocolate desserts. You must have catered for some pretty large events in your career? Yes most recently I was involved with the event at Hotelympia with William Curley serving 700 and featuring a dessert which was a take on the classic Jaffa Cake. I also managed the Elior culinary team for many years which was very successful but prior to that and what was, I suppose, my biggest job was being head chef at the Royal Albert Hall; I did that for two Proms seasons. That was very interesting – one minute it would be a Status Quo concert and the next minute a classical spectacular and everything in between. How many covers would you typically be looking at there? There were 147 boxes where we would do buffet service then there were five restaurants that would be busy before and after concerts. Events like Eric Clapton were always busy because that would be champagne and canapés in the boxes and a sit down dinner after the concert for up to two thousand people. It was all about logistics; of course if you’re going to a concert you want to sit down in a restaurant and be served within minutes because people always leave it till half an hour before the start of the show, so you had to be very clever how you designed menus with dishes that could be got out very quickly. What have been some of the more special or weird or challenging events you’ve catered for in your career? One was when the Queen opened the new Museum of Wales; we did the event for that. There were a lot of issues around security in the museum; we couldn’t push trolleys across the floor and there were only certain places you could walk so that was quite tricky. I remember doing the British Grand Prix when it was still at Brands Hatch, going back about 28 years. We had a marquee and did a lunch in there. There were about 300 guests and the desert was strawberries and cream. So we had 300 bowls of strawberries laid out ready to go, then somebody went along to scatter caster sugar over them; I tasted one and realised they’d actually sprinkled salt over all of them! There were a lot of very important people at this lunch like the Duke of Kent and they were already on their mains. Outside the tent we had this massive vat of water that we were using to make the teas, so we got everybody we could just to run these plates out and throw these strawberries into this vat of water. We were scooping them out with this big spider, putting them back in the bowl, sprinkling them with sugar and sending them out. We just about got away with it but then of course we had the problem of hundreds of gallons of salty water we had to get rid of before we could make the tea! You’ve done lots of competitions in your career; what is it about them that appeals to you?Almond orange cake It’s testing yourself really, although you’re competing against other teams; it’s pushing yourself to be as good as you can. My first ever competition, I got absolutely nothing. I was working for Natwest Bank staff training college. The head chef said we were all going to enter Hotelympia – I was pastry chef at the time – and there were 15 of us in total who were all told we were going to enter. So we went down and nobody won anything, not a certificate of merit, anything; it was an absolute disaster. I think I managed to get a certificate of merit for my desert but it definitely wasn’t great. Everybody vowed never to enter another competition again but I wasn’t put off and I thought, you’ve got to just keep coming back. Then I got involved with the Scottish culinary team just before they went to Berlin for the culinary Olympics and my friend (Willie Pike) said I could come along and sleep on his floor and make cups of tea and sweep up for the team, and I did, and I learned so much just watching the guys; then I came back and entered some competitions on my own. I got a couple of golds at the next Hotelympia and it all went from there really. Chocolate centrepieces If you had to pick one particular favourite competition win, which would it be? I think your first gold at Hotelympia is a kind of mile stone in your career. It sounds terrible but I’m not that bothered about winning! I much prefer getting a kick out of seeing other people do well. I worked for World Skills for about eight years and I got more of a buzz out of helping them do well than competing myself. What does your work with Callebaut involve? At Elior we have our own internal culinary competition and we run it a bit like  Great British Menu. I’ve included chocolate as a compulsory ingredient in the desert so we take all the competitors up to the Callebaut Academy. We have an awards dinner for about 250 people in March and we make chocolate centrepieces and other bits and pieces for that dinner and use it as training. We run a number of training courses there during the year as well. What kind of courses do you run there?Chocolate financier We have different levels, so we start with a course on grab-and-go chocolate desserts and cakes that could be created by anyone in the kitchen by following some simple recipes; then for people with more of a bent towards pastry there are courses in chocolate centre pieces and Easter egg making at Easter. We always try and make it relevant to the business so they can go back and make a difference at their site.

In these challenging times…

…the hospitality landscape has dramatically changed in the last two months, and with that our advertising revenues have all but expired, significantly impacting our business. Despite having to furlough a large portion of our staff, we are still delivering the valuable content and honest information, which hundreds of thousands of you come to The Staff Canteen for. We believe we have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs, are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector.

Your financial support means we remain independent and open to all. We were launched by a chef and remain the voice of chefs and other hospitality professionals.

We need your support to keep delivering the products and content that you love, giving you the platform to share opinions and inspiration. Every contribution whether big or small, means so much.
Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 15th July 2014

Peter Joyner, Food Development Director, Elior UK