This is a story of a young man with a huge heart, plenty of energy and a fearless, positive thinking. We are thrilled to share with you the interview with Nicholas Kerle
, the GM of Chiswell Street Dining Rooms
, one of the beautiful venues at ETM
Nicholas is not just an incredible Manager and a Hospitality lover, he is a young gentleman that offered his time, labour, love and energy to those who where more in need during the pandemic. This is a little memoir of his experience with the charity Compassion London.
Thank you, Nicholas, for showing a great example of generosity altruistic and charitable heart. Thank you also to all your fellow colleagues who worked with charities during the pandemic supporting key workers.
Who is “Compassion London”? How did you get to know about them?
Compassion London is an organisation founded by Leon Arts, with one simple aim "no one in London should go to bed hungry". It started in response to the Covid crisis and has been working over 10 weeks now, in that time we have used four kitchens across London and sourced, cooked, packaged and distributed hundreds of thousands of meals to the NHS, schools, charities, vulnerable and self isolating individuals all across London.
I first heard of them from a simple Facebook post of a local group from a wonderful lady called Naomi, it all started with a slightly nervous phone call to her in my back garden and it is amazing how only a few weeks later she along with many others feel like lifelong friends.
When did you make the decision to join forces? What did it mean to you?
We had all been in lockdown for a few weeks (felt like months at that point), I was beginning to struggle a bit with the whole situation. The beginning of 2020 had been a challenging year for me personally and when the lockdown first started, I found myself feeling a little a lost with what to do with my time (never been great at sitting still for too long!). Once I heard of them and the aim of Compassion, I instantly felt a connection and that I could use some of my experience to really make a difference. I went later that afternoon to have a look around the kitchen, which at that point was at the home of Saracens, the Allianz Arena, I knew within a few minutes I would be spending a lot of my time there.
Would you like to share the most powerful moment since volunteering with them?
Honestly, I have enjoyed replaying all the memories of the last eight weeks trying to pick the best, it has not always been smooth sailing but the best things in life always have their moments of madness.
Many of my memories are based around that slight moment of adrenaline (that old friend I have missed since hospitality shut down) and excitement for the challenge ahead, for example a miss count meaning we were 300 meals short for one of the schools we were supporting, it needed to be on the road in two hours flat or the kids would miss their lunch. Needless to say we cooked, chilled, packed and got it there for lunch.
The feedback we receive from many of the groups we support is always incredibly powerful and brings a smile to the soul.
However the most powerful thing without a doubt has been the people I have met and getting to know them. The people are an incredible mix from the trade and every other profession you can imagine. Hearing from all of them and myself just how much this volunteering has meant to us all and helped many of us through this incredibly challenging period.
Nicholas, despite being an incredible human being outside work, you are also a tenacious; professional Manager. Your career describes a loyal and determined individual. What are you thankful for? What are the experiences or moments you are most grateful of?
In terms of thankfulness, it all starts with slightly falling into this amazing industry. It was never meant to be more than a teenage "summer" job to me and turned out 10 years later to have been such a huge part of my life and bought many wonderful people into it, memories of achieving things that I never thought I would and of course a sack full of hilarious stories.
There have been many moments in my career which have shaped the course of my future, many amazing people who have taken that time to teach and guide me or been there for me on a personal level when it was needed. Now I truly hope to be the one to give that guidance or be that shoulder to the amazing people I have in my teams.
What is your message to all employees currently waiting to get back to work, or job seeking?
Breath. First of all just take a moment and a breath, if you are or have been struggling in the last few months you are not alone, we have all had those moments. It has been insanely challenging period for our industry and none of us knew (or know) how to deal with that, so it is OK to find that hard.
But the future will settle, you can already see the small shoots of recovery are around us and I have such high hopes for the long term of our industry. I believe people both in front of and behind the counter will forever have a changed appreciation for what hospitality is and the joy it brings us all. I for one know I cannot wait to start again and hearing my team are all as excited as I am, brings a smile to my face.
Our industry has always been about people, but now more than ever we will learn what an amazing network of human beings we are and how hard we will all work to get our business flowing again, venues buzzing and people smiling together.
Erika Visentin Bonomo – Permanent Division Manager