As I take my place to follow on the legacy that previous chair of The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) Matthew White left behind, it would be foolish of me not to feel a little apprehensive – especially against the backdrop of Covid-19. However, Matthew has truly been inspirational during his tenure as TUCO chair, in addition to being a great mentor. Also, the support I’ve received from the wider #TUCOfamily has empowered me in my mission to help shape TUCO for the future and to continue its work in serving members at a time when they need it the most.
When I first joined the university catering sector at The University of Exeter in 2003, following a 15-year career in the hotel business, I heavily relied on the support of the community that TUCO fosters. Here I could learn from others in the industry who were only too willing to give their time and knowledge to support their counterparts at other universities – a far cry from the competitive nature of the hotel business I had come from. I avidly attended regional meetings which sparked my interest in playing a more active role in TUCO and was invited onto the board in 2014 before becoming vice-chair in 2016. A year later, I joined Cardiff University where I got straight to work putting TUCO’s frameworks into action, helping us to save around 40%.
As chair my vision is to share the wonderful TUCO community with as many institutions as possible and to help our members recover from the impact of Covid-19. Like many, I know how heavy the financial pressure is right now and the ongoing challenges we face, but we should also take some comfort from the innovation that is happening as a result. These include new retail opportunities and pop-up catering outlets, as well as click and collect services to help generate additional revenue streams. To those who are not members of TUCO, I urge you to think about joining. Not only can its frameworks help you to make substantial financial savings, but the training and support that you will receive as a member are second to none.
I look forward to welcoming everyone as chair at a future event, offline or online, but in the meantime, I remain a very active member in the TUCO forums so do feel free to contact me.