Always having a foot in the door with hospitality, Callum Smith is no stranger to how a good manager operates. From starting work in his early teens, Callum has an engrained work ethic which has transferred through to his whole working journey and into his own catering business. Early work in pubs in the north sparked Callum’s dream to one day owning and running his own pub or business.
From his cosy abode in Tooting, Callum’s northern charm was not a miss throughout our conversation. Born in York and raised in Leeds, Callum was educated in local schools and went to study Health, Exercise and Nutritional Biochemistry at Leeds University. With healthcare and sport tunnelling through his education choices, his modules on nutrition sparked his desire to be involved in food and even had thoughts of becoming a dietician.
Being 1 of 6 growing up, Callum admitted he was quite a shy and not the “greatest waiter” in the world whilst working at his first pub job at The Whitehouse in Leeds. Following more and more exposure to different types of people and a chef who “looked after me”, Callum’s confidence continued to grow.
“I was scared of the chefs!”
Indeed, Callum flipped his situation around and became an exemplary staff member, to the point where he recognised things weren’t quite right. As a young teen, Callum was only paid £3.48 an hour and was pretty much running the floor. He had his first taste of training other people and realised other staff members were being paid more than he was for doing less. He decided to take it up with his managers and “made it so everyone was being paid the same”.
Following graduation at Leeds, Callum continued to keep his foot in the door within hospitality and fell in love with the industry. He became a supervisor of a restaurant in Towton and continued to move up the ranks as manger at The Beehive and then The Rockingham Arms. Gathering the skills and learning the ins and outs of hospitality by the age of 23 put Callum in good stead to eventually run his own business.
“I learnt from horrible managers how I don’t want to treat people”
After the umbrella company of the Beehive closed down, Callum was faced with an opportunity to work within that same pub, however, was bought by his partner’s family. Together (with his partner being a chef) they helped get the business off the ground and successful again and restored it with a new plan. From here Callum and his partner went travelling to the other side of the globe in New Zealand and Australia where he worked overseas within hospitality from September 2014- July 2015 when he returned to the UK.
During his time in New Zealand the conception of his brand, Fantail Catering and Management was inspired by the wildlife he’d encountered out there. On his return he went for a site operations job with Fortnum and Masons where he began his establishment as Fantail. Although it was one of the toughest jobs, he successfully ran one of the busiest lodges in Sommerset House in London. After his move to South London, Callum was inundated with jobs and has managed and catered for the Brits, Glastonbury and Wimbledon (just to name a few).
With sourcing his staff, Callum believes in his team getting full wages and being paid fairly for their time, which is why he doesn’t use agencies. Instead Callum looks out for staff when he visits his favourite coffee and food spots around London. Recognition of Callum’s success was what opened up a position or him at Levy UK, one of the biggest culinary champions in the UK.
With the current climate with Covid -19 it is no secret that extreme measures have been taken, including the Excel centre in London being turned into a hospital for over 4000 patients. Callum is on the team who now helps run site operation here and ensuring that NHS staff as well as patients are getting their food. With services like Callum’s being vital to not just weddings and monumental events, but to the running of operations with healthcare, it goes to show that with hard work and skill development you can be a part of something big.
“I’m experiencing things at a level that I never thought I would”