FACILITIES MANAGEMENT JOURNAL JOBS
FM CAREERS - CAREER LADDER
FM is known to be a career that people fall into
from other sectors. In this regular column, FMJ
chats to a facilities professional about how they
got into the sector and takes a look at their
career path. This month we talk to Candice
Webber, Head of Food & Development, Vacherin.
Name: Candice Webber
Head of Food & Development,
Born: Sydney, Australia
Lives: London, England
How did you progress through
the profession to your current role?
I started my career in a front of house
role for a well known café in Canberra.
I moved there at 17 and needed to pay
for my volleyball club fees. Eventually
I was asked if I wanted to work in the
kichens as well. I come from foodie
roots and I loved customising dishes
for people. My stepfamily are from a
restaurant background and my father
who has a keen interest in farm to
table cooking, living on a rural property
outside of Sydney.
The café o ered me an
apprenticeship and I went on to
manage the café on weekends while
working in the kitchen on weekdays.
The café management went on to
open an Italian restaurant, making
homemade pasta, gnocchi, ciambella
doughnuts, the whole works from
scratch! I progressed through the
restaurant to become chef de partie.
I realised that if I wanted to take this
seriously I needed more experience so I
moved back to Sydney. There, I applied
for jobs and took one with Bel-mondo,
a restaurant run by food writer and chef
Stefano Manfredi. At the same time I
decided to start entering competitons.
I did well, getting through to regional
and national rounds. There was a
particular one, Proud to be a chef, in
2002, where they took junior chefs and
helped them to launch their careers.
I won that alongside gold, silver and
bronze in other cooking competitions.
Part of the prize for Bond Land Dairies
was a sum of money which, along with
my savings, helped me to move to
I started at Mosimann’s Club, who
were caterers to the Royal family and
attracted a lot of celebrities too. I was
at the Belfry for a few years. I work on
training workshops at the Academy
for him and also did international
events. Towards the end, I realised I
wasn’t making the food that filled my
soul. I love the history that comes with
food, all the finer details. So I moved
on to an Iberian restaurant. I worked
with a Michelin-trained chef and he
saw my potential so he promoted me
to sous chef and immediately started
training me. It was great exposure,
but a er a year I decided to go back
to Australia to work with my old boss
Stefano Manfredi as senior sous chef.
I was there for two years, but missed
the UK and being so close to Europe. It
was from there I began learning about
contract catering and went on to join
Vacherin in 2018 as head of food and
Do you have any qualifications
or training in FM and related areas
such as health and safety? And how
have you benefited from them?
I’ve completed all the major courses
that we’re required to do: Food Safety,
and Health and Safety. These courses
highlight the things you should already
know, but also illustrate things that can
go wrong. The courses are delivered in
a format that helps make your working
environment safer for everyone.
What is your greatest
contribution to the FM sector, or
your current role?
It’s my innovative approach and my
ability to understand what businesses
need. I don’t just have a blanket
approach. I develop bespoke menus
for each site and we get involved with
absolutely everything, even right down
to the nitty-gritty of the right uniform
that suits the clients’ surroundings.
What do you enjoy most about
working in FM?
It’s easily the diversity of every day.
Each client I work with is completely
unique and needs something di erent.
One day you could be o ering street
food and the next you could be creating
a menu that’s really unique and
authentic. We’re currently creating a
workshop on authenticity and we’re
talking to street vendors about their
o ering. It’s so interesting and I think
it’s good for them to be able to share
the stories they are so passionate about
that then then inspire our chefs.
Do you have future projects or
career goals in mind?
I’d like to be able to grow Vacherin. It’s
important our chefs have somewhere
to progress to, too, so we can retain
talent. It would be great if we could
bring the Vacherin brand to the high
street – that’s something I’d love to see
and be a part of.
On a training note, I know quite a few
of our chefs also have their own food
related business ventures outside of
Vacherin so I’d like to bring in a course
about small business management
to support our chefs in building those
platforms. I see my role as a feeder not
just in the literal way but also to feed
talent, growth, experience and share
What personal qualities do
you think are most needed for a
successful career in FM?
I think it’s a can-do attitude. There are
curve balls thrown at you all the time,
so you need to be flexible and willing to
try things. You also need to be prepared
to evolve as a chef. My father once said
‘if you don’t evolve, you get le behind’
so I think evolving is the real secret to
success in the catering industry and
you need to be independently driven
What do you think would make
the biggest di erence to catering
the FM sector?
I think there’s a need for a greater focus
on corporate social responsibility and
that will make a huge di erence to
the way the sector operates. All chefs
need to know how to utilise ingredients
to their full potential to reduce food
waste. Reducing plastics waste is also
key. Vacherin has started using glass
jam jars to reduce plastic waste. The
idea is that customers return them
a er each use so they can be washed
and re-used. More catering companies
need to be zero waste to landfill and it’s
really important partners, suppliers and
clients support each other in that.
What advice would you give to
someone coming into the profession
Don’t wait for someone to teach you.
If you’ve got a question, you need to
answer it yourself. Just go out and find
the information. Whatever anyone else
brings to the table is just a bonus.
What are the greatest challenges
of working in FM?
Understanding how to get to the most
from people. With multiple clients,
everyone has a di erent objective. You
need to understand what your own
sta need to be able to fulfil their role,
as well as understanding what they
need to deliver to their clients. You have
to grasp the bigger picture from the
What do you predict could be the
main changes to the FM sector over
the next few years?
I think we will see a greater focus
on flexible working, CSR, and the
whole wellbeing aspect in general.
Recruitment will also be a key focus
as younger people work di erently
and o en like to work under their own
conditions. This isn’t always a good
fit for the traditional catering industry
so we need to reevaluate things and
evolve recruitment strategies in order
to attract and retain talent.
Workplaces are also evolving and
restaurants are now becoming meeting
spaces, too, so there’s a demand for
food service that lasts the whole day
rather than just at designated meal
Would you, or someone you know, like to be featured in our career ladder column? If you’re an operational
FM with more than 10 years’ experience in the sector, then email email@example.com
66 NOVEMBER 2019