While some people (cynics, I call them) might dismiss the village as a mere staff canteen, those of us in the know understand that it is in fact the functional nucleus of The Lowry. It’s a meeting room, a welcome break and the building’s only 24/7 outlet for the hits of Absolute Radio.
The village is staffed by members of the catering team who are all in contention for The Village Personality of the Year Award. It is a prestigious and highly contested accolade within the hospitality department and is announced at the annual staff party. Who could be better to talk us through the role of a village person than 2015’s winner Iain Black? How about 2014’s champion Curt Lanyon-Gore? No? Well Iain is currently frolicking around Australia and a Twitter Q&A wouldn’t cut it, so Curt it is!
What role does the Village staff play in The Lowry?
We feed the hungry! We serve food to the staff and visiting companies. We make sure the hot drinks stations are stocked up, the fridges are full and generally maintain the area. We work with the kitchen staff and try to make sure there is food for everyone and we chat with the staff from different departments during their breaks.
What is a typical day in the Village?
It differs. One day it can be pretty quiet with only a few staff members in and others can be really busy with a production’s full cast and crew in need of a pre-show meal. We work shifts that can start at 8am or go on until 10pm. During this time provide three hot food services. When we’re not serving hot food we are clearing plates, working the till and making sure people recycle correctly!
And how does one recycle correctly, Curt?
You put recyclable waste in the recycle bin, general waste in the general waste bin and food waste in the food waste bin.
I see, thank you. How does working on the village differ from working on the restaurant/bar/coffee shop?
It’s less full on compared to table service in the restaurant and making coffees on the coffee shop or bar. However, I think the key difference is the customers. They are the most regular customers you can come across in any area of the building. It’s nice because you get to know some of them, who you otherwise would not.
What is the best thing about working in the village?
As I said before, I like meeting different types of people, whether they work in another department or are visitors, such as actors and musicians. I’ve served several famous people, such as Natalie Imbruglia and Peter Kay but I don’t really get star-struck, I can see they’re ordinary people who just eat lunch like you and I.
What is the hardest part about working in the village?
The Lowry is such a big building with so many people coming in everyday, so during busy times there can be a lot of people to serve. However the members of catering team are so adaptable, if we need someone from another hospitality area to come and help, we can call on one of them.
What does it take to win Village Personality Of The Year?
It helps to be an open person and a bit wacky, as current holder Iain Black would probably agree. You need the ability to get on with everyone, whilst at the same time remaining professional.
Thanks to Curt for his insight into the village. He will be spending three months volunteering in Tanzania so there are couple of months left to catch his professional wackiness before he goes!
Written by Jamie Walsh.