Each month, we will take a look at someone, or something that makes Mandolay such a special place to work in, and visit.

In a month when we completed our Air Conditioning programme, fitting units to every one of our 78 bedrooms, we did think of kicking things off by interviewing Eddie, our electrician, but he has gone for a well-deserved lie down.

So, we can think of no better person to start with than our Head Chef, David Fodor. David’s story is nothing short of inspirational, having started at Mandolay almost ten-years ago as a Kitchen Porter, he now oversees a kitchen that has once again retained a coveted AA Rosette for Culinary Excellence.

This dramatic transition from KP to Head Chef is a remarkable achievement, particularly in such a short time, but it was very clear from the start that David had the determination to learn, and an overwhelming capacity to work hard.

Knife skills, and learning the business of cooking are one thing, but in order to become Head Chef you also require people skills, and ability to manage a team, and get the most out of every person in the kitchen. David commands respect, but not in a, dare we say a ‘Gordon Ramsay persona’ kind of way, he is a great leader because he has shown, by his own example, how far it is possible to progress with the right attitude, and work-ethic.

David, although a physical giant of a man, is extremely modest and unassuming, some might even say shy, but in his kitchen he attracts admiration from all that are fortunate enough to work with him, with managers and staff in every department respecting his opinions, and undoubted talents.

Every business dreams of being able to promote from within, and we are hugely grateful to have had the opportunity to do so with David, he has taken every challenge in his stride, and continues to lead his team of talented professionals in the best possible way.

We asked David a couple of quick questions.

What is your favourite food? – I love a variety of foods, but if I had to choose one type, I would have to say seafood. British seafood is among the best in the world, and we are lucky to have such an abundance of wonderful fish, and shellfish to choose from.

What advice would you give to aspiring chefs? – Learn the basics. I began as a kitchen porter, and I like to think that working my way up through the kitchen has given me the best possible grounding in every station in the kitchen. Being a chef can be hard work if you just think of it as a job, you really need to be in love with it, and if you are, it’s the best job in the world.