Alex Head has a passion for food and hospitality that’s seen her go from selling sarnies as a teenager to founder and head chef of Social Pantry, a catering company with several sites across London. We caught up with her to find out how’s she coped with lockdown and what her plans are in the future.
There are so many things we’d like to ask you but let’s start with how you are?
We are great thanks! Its lovely being back at work with a few of the team; we’re all working round the clock to drive in some events and income and doing so on a smaller team.
How has your business been affected?
It has definitely been a tough year so far and sadly will not get that much easier anytime soon but, we are excited to be looking ahead to lots of brilliant events next summer, which is all very positive. In the meantime we have looked at alternative revenue streams; we are now delivering hampers, delivered dinners, hosting guest chef cook along and much more!
Tell us a bit about how you set up your own catering company
I didn’t really plan to set up a food business, it naturally happened as I started selling sandwiches when I was 15 and it all grew from there. I have always loved food, eating and feasting with family.
You’ve worked on some incredible events. What stands out?
Oh gosh, there have been some really memorable events it is hard to choose. I would have to say that the Fenty Beauty launch in Knightsbridge for Rhianna was a definite highlight! Think gold fortune cookies, candy floss in the pantone tones of blush and lots of incredible cocktails.
How do you make catering sustainable?
We are always looking at ways to develop our systems and processes so are always striving to be more sustainable. We do this by regularly looking at packaging, kitchen processes, menu and recipes and assessing what we can change to improve. There are lots of brilliant companies doing great things who we look up to and who inspire us.
You’re known for your commitment to social causes. How do you work with charities?
Yes! We employ ex-offenders, recruiting from behind bars and offering jobs on release. We try to maintain 10% of our workforce as ex-offenders. We work with prisons directly and number of charities including Switchback, Key4Life and Redemption
The event industry is made up of inspirational women. Who inspires you?
All the Social Pantry women are incredible and a daily inspiration. Looking at others in the industry there are so many brilliant ladies. Laura Jackson who is making a name for herself as a supper club host, Thomasina Myers of Wahacca and someone like Darina Allen, who runs Ballymaloe in Ireland, are all pin ups of mine!
What are your thoughts on how the industry can move forward?
It’s great that there have been a lot of conversations with suppliers, competitors and people within the industry. It has definitely opened up conversations between everyone and that is only ever a good thing!
There is comfort in knowing that we are all in the same boat and as experienced as each other coming out of this. I would assume most businesses will be ensuring they are moving forward with a strategy that involves driving in revenue through diversified revenue streams whilst keeping costs to a minimum.
We are always looking at opportunities but for the moment though we are concentrating on coming out of Covid-19 as best we can and a fun summer full of weddings next year.
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