Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Me&MyJob: Deli-ghted with a career in hospitality

Claire Carson has been able to develop her professional skills throughout her career with Centra

Claire Carson, Deli Manager, Centra Ballymoney

What does your job entail?

My key role is to help provide a varied range of high quality |and popular ‘on the go’ meals for customers. I give direction to the team on the deli counter, design menus, select the best |produce and ingredients and have oversight of good hygiene practice.

It is important that our customers feel valued and are met by a friendly face when they come to the counter, so I would see a lot of my job being about customer service. I also need to be on top of budgets, ordering enough food, so that we can meet demand, but not wasting anything. I budget so that customers get value for money, but also so that the deli is a profitable business.

Customer requests are taken on board to provide new choices where feasible and it is also part of my job to look out for dishes that aren’t doing so well and then taking them off the menu.

Is it 9-5?

My job isn’t 9 – 5. Being in the hospitality business means that I must be ready for breakfasts and lunches long before everyone else. I usually start work at 5.30 am and the benefit of this is that I get to finish at 2 pm. On the rota other shifts are 6am to 3pm and 11am to 6.30pm, so there is something to suit everyone in the deli team.

How did you get into this line of work?

Food has always been a passion of mine and I found out early on that I was good at making it. Prior to my job in Centra I worked in several catering outlets on a part-time basis in between managing other commitments. When I saw the job advertised for Centra in Ballymoney, I was ready for a new challenge and decided to apply.

Outline your career to date?

I have had several jobs that have included café work, home cleaning and factory positions before moving on to work in Centra, where I have been for four years.

I enjoy the job and being part of the team, and through hard work and dedication I have progressed to the position of deli manager, which I am really pleased about.

Tell us about your qualifications/training?

I left school with a basic education and since then I have welcomed additional training. This has included completing courses and taking exams in Intermediate Health and Hygiene, NVQ Level II in Catering, First Aid and Customer Care.

I have always been keen to develop my skills and knowledge and I have been fortunate within my role that this is also encouraged by my management team.

What qualities are required for your job — personal and professional?

This job requires first and foremost a ‘people person’ who can get along with team members and customers alike.

I would say the most important skills are good communication, organisational skills and being able to plan and budget well.

What we want most of all is for customers to like the service, enjoy the food and ultimately keep returning to us.

With this in mind is it crucial to be organised and to forward plan the deli menu, so that we offer the best selection of meals.

When working with food it is also important to be aware of nutrients and healthy diets, so a working knowledge of this is desirable. Excellent personal hygiene is of paramount importance. All deli staff must wear a clean uniform, have their hair covered and follow strict hand washing guidelines.

It is necessary to have basic qualifications in food hygiene and customer relations.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

To not be afraid to take a chance, follow my instinct and trust in my own ability.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I like to socialise and have someone cook for me for a change! I enjoy keeping in touch with my family and friends and am an avid fan of Facebook. I also enjoy baking and trying out new recipes. A new hobby that I enjoy a lot is indoor bowling.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?

I have 14 brothers and sisters.

Who has inspired you most in your life?

Jamie Oliver has inspired me greatly over the years.

I think his passion and love of food is infectious. He is a family man as well as being an excellent chef and business man.

I was particularly interested in his campaign to improve school dinners and admired his drive and enthusiasm to make a change in this area.

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