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The Vegetarian World Forum

THE VEGETARIAN - No.1 Vol.4 - SPRING 1950 pp.31-33:


DURING the war years a system of rationing and restrictions regulated our national food supplies, and it became necessary to organise catering, on a wide scale in order to ensure adequate feeding.

The Ministry of Food, in arranging the distribution of all foodstuffs, both home-produced and imported, took consideration of the special needs of children, expectant mothers, agricultural workers and vegetarians. This national recognition of vegetarianism has shown its influence in all branches of catering; in many restaurants and hotels, as well as on some Main Line trains and B.O.A.C., a praiseworthy attempt is made to provide vegetarian meals when requested.

To meet the urgent needs of the increasing number of vegetarians, many specialised catering establishments have been opened by enterprising individuals in different parts of the country; there are numerous cafes and restaurants, guest houses and nature cure homes which are entirely vegetarian, and in constant use both by vegetarians and others.

Proprietors of many of these establishments have met together to discuss their actual aims and difficulties, and have now formed themselves in an active society known as The Vegetarian Catering Association, whose chief objects are to develop and maintain high standards of vegetarian catering throughout the British Isles. It is generally agreed among proprietors that, though there are now adequate supplies of vegetarian foodstuffs, there is insufficient help available. Staffing is usually the biggest problem in a Guest House, but it is difficult to understand why this is so, as vegetarian catering offers a particularly interesting career if one is in good health, adaptable, good humoured and has a keen faith in the ideals of vegetarianism.

There is the prospect of wages regulations: guest house conditions regarding working hours, rest periods, overtime, holidays with pay, etc., are to be controlled as in other occupations. On such mutual, reasonable terms any little bogey of drudgery is dispelled by the natural interest in the ever-changing human clement.

THE good name of any vegetarian establishment is largely built up on the reputation of its catering; therefore, an excellent cook is an essential keystone in every establishment.

Other aspects of guest house work, though less obvious, are still quite important; to maintain a quiet, orderly service in the dining room and an unobtrusive comfort in the bedrooms; to keep the house clean and bright with colour and gay with flowers, and the garden well-stocked with compost grown vegetables; to find a satisfactory answer to all letters of enquiry by return of post; to enter all the accounts and maintain proper records of numbers and quantities for the M.O.F. returns; to act as a focal point for all enquiries, to be able to supply local information and also to be conversant with the general activities of the vegetarian movement; with an ability to guide, when necessary, an evening's discussion along constructive lines.

In a large establishment these various duties are undertaken by a team of workers, each specalising in one or more departments, but in a small house all the activities are shared by two or three people, and there is greater need for adaptability, efficiency and speed. A guest house is primarily a Home where the comfort and well-being of the guest is the first consideration, but it is also the home of the team of workers who perform the necessary services in bedroom, dining room, kitchen, garden or office. Each of these workers contributes some facet to the general atmosphere and comfort, but each should also have some comprehension of the whole picture and a sense of fitting into it.

THE guest house is a type of fraternity. During the season, numerous guests come for a brief stay, probably tired and in need of a holiday. If the atmosphere of the house is a happy one, they will quickly relax and appreciate the comforts surrounding them.

Realising the vast scope of this good work, which can be achieved for the vegetarian movement by its catering establishments, the V.C.A. is encouraging the opening of new guest houses and restaurants. In order to meet the urgent demand for more staff, classes and training, facilities are being arranged in different parts of the country. It is hoped to encourage numerous young people to take up guest house work as a definite career. As a foundation, a thorough knowledge of vegetarian foods and their preparation is an essential, and so several courses of instruction in vegetarian cookery have been arranged as follows:

APRIL 17th TO 21st
Evening Class at Mercury House, 43 Lancaster Grove, London, N.W.3.
Tutor: Bridget Mitton.
APRIL 25th TO MAY 5th
Full course at Rydal Lodge, Ambleside, Westmorland.
Tutor: Fay K. Henderson.
AUG. 19th TO 26th
Full course at Bryn Tanat, Llansantffraid, near Oswestry.
Tutor: Bridget Mitton.

The full courses are both residential, entailing house charges as well as tuition fees.

SUCH a course may be followed by a period of general training for a few months at an established guest house in. order to gain experience and an understanding of general routine. Trainees would receive payment under a properly drawn agreement, and the V.C.A. is prepared to arrange such: training facilities and to give advice regarding terms. After taking such a course of training, students will receive a Certificate of Proficiency from the Association. They should be qualified to take an assistant cook's post in any guest house, in order to gain further and varied experience and learn to carry responsibility, and later on, perhaps after one or two seasons, to accept a position in full charge of a guest house kitchen. Such training, followed by good, varied experience, should qualify one as a Manager of a vegetarian catering establishment: a position carrying considerable responsibility and influence, and one which might easily be the forerunner of a working partnership.

The Vegetarian Catering Association is an active body, keeping close contact with the catering establishments of Britain, so, from a wide knowledge, of staff vacancies, can offer good positions to suitable qualified applicants.

Further information on any of these matters may be obtained direct from the Secretary:
Mrs. M. V. English, Mercury House, 43 Lancaster Grove, London, N.W.3.



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