Monday 4th September saw The Art School play host to the formation of the Liverpool Hospitality Association.  A momentous day that saw the Liverpool Hoteliers and Restaurateurs merge into one new body to support the hospitality industry in Liverpool.

Representatives attending the launch came from Blackburne HouseFU Baijiu BarSK EventsBistroQui?Caffe Cream of New BrightonCarpathia RestaurantHospitality Action North , World Class ServiceEventfulNMLThe Chocolate CellarLiverpool Hoteliers AssociationCrowne Plaza LJL AirportMarketing LiverpoolAction Against HungerHard Day’s Night HotelLiverpool Enterprise Partnership and Elaine Bowker from City of Liverpool College.

Addressing the assembled attendees, Chef Paul Askew said: “We know the landscape of the city is changing, the visitor economy is booming. Trip Advisor says there is 1600/1700 restaurants currently in the city and there are seven and half thousand bedrooms available with more on the way. There is huge pressure on us to deliver this, we are the third most visited city in the UK so the time is now and we need to seize the day.”

“It is so exciting to see it finally come to fruition but who is going to work in these places? How are we going to recruit to these standards? How are we going to raise the bar?”

“Most of us who have worked in this industry know the amount of mentoring that is required when working with young people and helping them through what is a very challenging industry. The glamorisation of Front of House is yet to happen in this country. It has happened for Chefs, years ago, we were the servile wretches in the kitchen that nobody wanted to speak to but now people want to speak to us and know about food. This is not the only reason why we want the two associations to merge but it is the foundation of that and why I’ve asked Elaine Bowker from City of Liverpool College to address you all today.”

“What we need to do is take responsibility as an industry. The newly formed body will be a paid membership at only £100 per annum. I hope it will make us feel part of an organisation that has some teeth and lobbying power, giving us the opportunity to converse with the Metro Mayor and Joe Anderson and be able to address them on matters such as the proposed Hospitality Tax.”

“Not only that, it is also about improving things within the industry. If you do join up we want to make it a stipulation that you take on at least two apprentices per annum. You must give work experience to school leavers. We must address the skills agenda as nobody else is going to do it for us.”

Picking up on this point, Elaine Bowker, Principal of City of Liverpool College said: “We are one of the biggest colleges in the UK and the only college that offers the RACA qualification. This city is fantastic for the Visitor Economy but that depends on people and food in particular.”

“ At the moment there is only Paul who is supporting the Royal Academy Professional Chefs Apprenticeship. We do more training in the Lakes and Manchester than we currently do here in Liverpool. There is little demand from young people coming through to work in this sector which is why I need you all to support me to encourage young people who want do this as a career. Our businesses are dependent on them. If there is one thing we can do as a sector, it is to raise the bar around better advice and guidance for young people. We all need to challenge the perception of what working in this industry is like.”

On being the first establishment to sign up Chef Paul Askew said: “I want today to be a historical moment. I am going to sign up today and the first Hospitality Association membership will be granted.  I hope that we can convince people that it is a worthy cause and a way of getting together and celebrating what we have in our city.”

Steven Hesketh from Liverpool Hoteliers Association, who along with Chef Paul Askew is a driving force behind the new body said:  “I’m looking forward to the energy of the restaurateurs and the hoteliers coming together with our key driving force being the visitor economy. It would be fantastic if we could get as many restaurants, bars and hotels to sign up as possible.”

Also in attendance were Jean Michele Grand and Collette Burroughs Rose from Action Against Hunger to promote their campaign Love Food Give Food which is raising funds to help children worldwide to survive and grow up strong.

If you would like to become a member of the Liverpool Hospitality Association, contact Steven Hesketh for further information.