A FRIDAY CHAT WITH DEPUTY CATERING MANAGER AT THE INNER TEMPLE PRIYA PATEL16 July 2021
After 11 years with Searcys at The Honourable Society of The Inner Temple, Priya Patel knows a thing or two about hospitality. After starting her career in Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium (now known as the Principality Stadium), Priya headed back to London and worked at the Royal Albert Hall, before joining Searcys in 2010.
Hi Priya, tell us about how you got into this industry?
It all started because wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. Whilst at college (for a number of years) I did many different courses to find my way in life. During this time at college, my family and I went on a month’s adventure to the States where I spent some time with my dad’s family on the west coast, who are hoteliers, and it’s where I found my passion for events and catering. When restarting college after the summer holiday, I recall telling the head of the computing course I was doing that I wanted to work in hospitality. He looked at me rather surprised and confused and said well this is obviously the wrong course for you, but let’s find a way to get you on the right path. He, along with my other lecturers, helped me get to university where I completed a degree in Hotel and Catering Management.
Having worked in some large outstanding venues I found my love of events, historical settings and looking after a team and many hundreds of guests to make sure they had a memorable experience from beginning to end.
And what do you love about working in hospitality?
It’s a great pleasure when a person enters a room and the first thing they say is ‘oh wow.’ It brings a smile to my face, along with all the compliments that we receive for our food and service standards. Being part of a team, being able to lead them, guide them and assist them gives me great satisfaction. I love working on the sales strategy, looking at new ways to market ourselves as well as the operational aspects of the business. Knowing the team and I have similar goals – to generate business and have successful events is rewarding in itself. I do use the phrase ‘one team one dream’ (a lot!) but I truly believe in this. The team’s dedication and enthusiasm mean that we can all drive the business forward and have more and more successes.
And what are some of the highlights of your time here?
Whilst working at The Inner Temple I have worked on some high-profile events, from private intimate dinners for the country’s senior judiciary to gala events, garden parties and running an event where the current President of the United States was guest of honour with the past Prime Minister in attendance. The Inner Temple was the Belgium House during the 2012 Olympics, where we looked after their delegates from around the world. I was also privileged to have managed a dinner for the whole Olympic Committee before the opening ceremony – I cannot forget their gratitude at the end of the event.
And how have you adapted during the pandemic?
Back in March 2020, we all were hit with such uncertain news, which sent our lives into a whirlwind. Not only were our work lives affected dramatically but so were our home lives. I have a young daughter and trying to explain what was going on sent her little mind racing. Amazingly she accepted the new norm quickly. Although she does ask ‘when can we go to the pub’?
I understand for a lot of people who were furloughed it was daunting, but for me, it helped my recovery from a serious illness late in 2019. I took the opportunity to rest, recover and rebuild my strength. I have been seeing a personal trainer to aid my recovery which I am going to keep up in 2021 – a goal for the future to get back on track!
And what do you love doing most when you’re not working?
One of the things I am passionate about is teaching my daughter lots of skills to make her as independent as possible. We love doing lots of things together and one of her favourite things to do is make pizza! She helps with making the dough and has learnt to be patient during the resting time and waiting for the dough to rise. As a family we have spent more time together which I have loved.
And what are the plans for the future at The Inner Temple?
The Inner Temple is creating two new floors where we will have 1 floor as a dedicated conference and lecture theatre setting and the other has 8 individual meeting and training rooms – perfect for all types of small to mid-size events. So over the past year, we have been busy creating new event spaces with state-of-the-art AV and hybrid facilities. The rooms and new floors will be breathtaking where you will have lovely views of the River Thames and the surrounding sites.
We have created a CGI video that is a must-see for any person looking for such an iconic venue in the City of London. Watch the video below!