What is your role at the club and how long have you been here?
I am the Executive Chef at the club and have been in this role since June 2019, but I have worked for the Shanahan family for over 10 years.
What does a Head Chef do during the week?
I am responsible for the planning, sourcing and delivery of food at the club, this includes catering for the players, coaching staff, club staff, matchday hospitality, functions, banqueting and concessions.
My responsibilities include overseeing the kitchens and its staff, menu development, budgetary control, health and safety and staff training.
I work closely with other areas of the club including the strength and conditioning coach, developing menu plans that ensure players’ food meets the nutritional demands of matches and training.
I also work closely with many local suppliers as well as the Port Vale Foundation and the Hubb Foundation Children's Charity.
... and what about matchdays?
Match days without covid restrictions usually start at 8am. After a quick coffee and a briefing, the team get on with their jobs. It a busy day with lots to do before lunchtime. Before service I’ll also meet with the front of house staff to discuss any last-minute issues.
We would normally provide a carvery in the Valiant suite and a 3-course lunch for directors, sponsors and those on hospitality packages. We also cater for box holders, officials, club staff, players and coaching staff.
All of our food is cooked freshly on the day but much of the preparation and planning have been done on the previous day to ensure things go smoothly.
The atmosphere in the kitchen is good on match days and the time passes quickly, unless we have a function later that evening, we are usually finished around 5.30pm!
What’s the best thing about your job and what are the things you enjoy the most?
The best thing is that there is never a dull moment and every day is different. The variety of challenges that the role throws up keeps me on my toes! I love cooking, being creative and finding solutions to the demands that the job brings. Working with the energetic, enthusiastic catering team here at Vale Park is great.
The club is a supportive and friendly place to work.
How has the covid pandemic affected you and your team?
Obviously, the absence of fans at the ground and the complete shutdown of our hospitality provision has had a great impact on the catering department. As well as the strict safety measures in place at the ground we’ve had to implement flexible work options and really focus on organising a safe work environment for our staff.
Like with the majority of people, the pandemic has taken its toll on us. We have staff who have lost loved ones or not had contact with family for a long time.
Shielding, isolating and general anxiousness about coming into work has affected our team. For me, I’ve become much more aware of the wellbeing and mental health of those around me.
Another way it has affected me is that it has highlighted the generosity and goodwill of the people of Burslem and the rest of the city. The amount of people volunteering to help and donate to the PVFC Community Hub was amazing to see. I was very proud that most of my furloughed team volunteered to produce and help distribute tens of thousands of meals to the community.