Meet the contractor: Somerset Larder
Hospitality and catering are unlikely to be the industries you’d immediately associate with a massive construction project, like Hinkley Point C. But they’re two essential support services we rely on to keep the thousands of employees on site hydrated and fed. So if you’re looking to break into the food and drinks industry, or want to work behind the scenes in the kitchen dishing up meals for hungry workers, read on to find out about the huge opportunities Somerset Larder has for young people at Hinkley Point C.
Q. Tell us more about Somerset Larder
A. We were formed in 2012 to provide the catering operations for the Hinkley Point C project. From small beginnings we are now a multi-site team of over 300 people and have on-site kitchens, restaurants, coffee shops and a network of vending machines. Our main support is provided from our central production kitchen based in North Petherton.
As the number of people working on site at Hinkley Point C ramps up as the project develops, we will need to increase our numbers too – to ensure everyone is fed and watered! It’s also worth mentioning that we’re a 24-hour operation. Whether it’s someone doing an early shift, having a late night drink in a bar, working nights – or even those working on one-of-a-kind jobs (such as the non-stop concrete pour), we’ll be on hand to prepare and serve them food and drink.
Here are some of the epic portions dished up by Somerset Larder at Hinkley Point C:
- 8,000 meals a day
- 6.5 million cups of tea and coffee
- 880,000 cooked breakfasts
- 1.9 million eggs
- And more than 5 million meals since 2018
Q. What job opportunities are there for young people at Somerset Larder?
A. We have opportunities galore at Somerset Larder! We’re always recruiting for staff in a variety of roles – including apprenticeships.
The other thing to point out is that Somerset Larder isn’t all about the cooking and serving of meals. On top of the traditional roles you may associate with the catering and hospitality industries – like chefs, cooks, bar staff, serving staff and the like – we have dedicated teams looking after our sales & marketing, social media, finance, goods in & out, IT, maintenance, product development chefs, human resources, training, health & safety, quality assurance and a whole fleet of delivery drivers! There are many, many layers to our business – and opportunities come up in all areas.
Also, we were one of the lucky few catering firms in the UK that didn’t have to reduce staff numbers to continue operating during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hinkley Point C was classed as an essential infrastructure project, so we were able to continue our business and we’re proud of the job security we can offer at Somerset Larder.
Q. What type of training and support do you provide?
A. At Somerset Larder we offer individualised personal development programmes so everyone is empowered to be the best they can be in their role. We have an induction programme that provides our new team members with all the information they need, along with a minimum of five career-building, nationally recognised certificates.
We take a blended learning approach to our training with in-house training courses – delivered on the job by trainers, mentors and specialists with classroom sessions for some subjects and bring in outside trainers for specific roles (e.g. first aid). We have our own dedicated eLearning system to support employees too.
We’re also very excited to be launching soon the Somerset Larder Apprenticeship Academy. This will be a specialist learning centre equipping talented individuals with learning and development skills to make a career in the hospitality and catering industry. It will offer a growing number of different apprenticeships through our partners at Bridgwater and Taunton College.
We hope to provide opportunities for learners to move around different areas of our business which will give them exposure to all the key areas of our operations and enable students the chance to network with other apprentices across the South West in other employers who provide apprenticeships
Q. What are the career prospects for young people at Somerset Larder?
A. Career prospects are wide and varied! There is a career pathway in place at Somerset Larder so we can identify talent and nurture individuals who want to progress their careers. Individuals who demonstrate the right attitude, skills and willingness to learn and grow will go far!
Working in the hospitality and catering industry, especially at Somerset Larder, provides skill sets that can only be learned in our business sector. Social skills, interpersonal skills, customer service skills, food and beverage knowledge, service techniques, financial acumen… the list goes on! Not only are these skills for life and support you in every level of career progression and promotion, but they are recognised around the world. If you have an aptitude for putting others first, food, drink, and first-class service – these skills will be in demand wherever in the world you may find yourself!
Want to find out what it’s like to work at Somerset Larder? Watch this film to find out what it’s like to work in our kitchens at Hinkley Point C.
Find out what it’s like to work in hospitality at Hinkley Point C in this film with Eloise, a General Assistant with Somerset Larder.
Q. What skills and behaviours do you look for in young people?
A. We’ll teach young people the practical skills they need to do their job, so don’t worry about not having this knowledge yet. Instead, it’s you – the individual and your attitudes to other people, life and your work – that will make you stand out to us here at Somerset Larder.
In particular, we look for people with the following skills and behaviours:
- The right work ethic – We’re looking for individuals who understand that they’re building the foundations for the rest of their working life at Somerset Larder. You need to remember that work is hard, but the more you put in, the more your work will give back. Read more on being a self-starter.
- A willingness to learn – We are always on the lookout for young people who want to learn new things. A quest for new knowledge will set you apart from the rest. Find out how to develop this behaviour.
- Get up, dress up, turn up – In our industry, the shifts can sometimes be varied and unpredictable. So perfecting the skills of punctuality and pride in your appearance builds character, and promotes reliability and dependability to others. Read more on time management.
- Do the right thing, even when no one is watching – We look for those people who strive to do the right thing every time – even when there is an easier way out! Learn more about responsibility at work.
- Communication, communication, communication! – We seek out individuals who can look people in the eye and hold a conversation. This is an ability every young person should learn to perfect. It is an art to be able to engage in small talk with a stranger or present something to a senior director. Those with strong communication skills will go far. At Somerset Larder we can help you become better at this vital art. Learn how to demonstrate communication using tips in this blog.
- Resilience – We look for people who are strong in their mind, able to react to changing conditions and instructions, and have the ability to handle pressure. In learning these attributes, you become resilient and are able to recover quickly from any difficulties that may obstruct your path. Resilience = Toughness! Not sure if you have resilience? Read our blog on resilience to find out.
- Do your homework! – We welcome applications from everyone, whatever your age or circumstances. But please do your homework on Somerset Larder first. For instance, we have a set of values that run through the very core of our business (Togetherness, Nurture, Pride, Planet). So before you apply for a job or come to meet us, visit our website to find out more, then think about what you are bringing to the table, and how this reflects on our values.
Q. How can I best prepare for an interview with Somerset Larder?
A. Interviews at Somerset Larder are usually in person: either face-to-face or via a digital format (a Teams or Zoom video call, for instance). Questions are aimed at giving you the opportunity to tells us about you, your experiences and what you bring to our organisation. As well as thinking about how you can demonstrate the skills and behaviours outlined above, get yourself prepared to give specific example of times when you have given top quality service or gone ‘above and beyond’ for other people.
Interested in working on the project?
Register with the HPC Jobs Service here – where you can also find out about the latest job and apprenticeship vacancies at Somerset Larder. If you’re aged between 16-21 and not already signed up to our skills programme, Young HPC, you can register here and get exclusive access to ‘meet the employer’ events and training opportunities.