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Meet the Team

Introducing John Townley, Business Development Manager (& resident wine buff)


 

How long have your worked for Suzanne James Catering?

Four months now, but I started out as a client two years ago, then attended the Supper Club a few times, and then finally took the plunge and joined the team.


What do you do at SJHQ?

My business card says “Business Development Manager” but so far I have been involved in visiting and building relationships with the amazing venues we work with, updating HR records for the expanding team here and developing a training course for our waiting staff, reviewing all the “back office” procedures, helping match and find wines that will complement a menu or a client's theme for an event, not forgetting keeping Sue supplied with coffee (black with a teaspoon of honey). Oh, and doing the washing up after lunch!


What do you love about your job?

Visiting places like the Royal Hospital Chelsea or the Museum of the Order of St John and seeing “behind the scenes” is a real eye opener. As is seeing the incredible detail that goes in to planning a client’s event and the incredible creativity of the team here, coming up with ideas, menus, and the little extras that transform an event into something so special. And the lunches we get are pretty good too!


What's your favourite food to eat?

Please see attached 28 page appendix! Basically I love just about everything except hard boiled eggs and kidneys. But if I had to choose, a world without curry and without smoked bacon would not be worth living in!


If you could dine with anyone, past or present who would it be?

A friend I have not seen for a long time so we could catch up.  Someone with a pathological sense of generosity and a large and well-stocked cellar (see below). An A List Celebrity (just to make the rest of the office jealous) and finally the scullery maid from Downton Abbey so that there is someone there to do the washing up at the end of the evening.

If you could go back in time what food would you tell your younger self to try sooner?

Stinky cheese!  I didn't get around to trying it until I was about 30.  Once I finally did I loved it and have never looked back!


What did you do before you worked for Suzanne James Catering?

For the last eight years, I was the Quality Assurance Manager at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust - sadly, the role was QA-ing the education process rather than the actual wine. Before that I worked for Microsoft and started my career as an accountant and then consultant with Arthur Andersen (where I first met and worked with Amanda, who now runs the office here!).


What do you like to do when you're not at work?

Wine tasting is a major part of my life - I just find it fascinating subject and love discovering new wines and working out what foods they will go with. Other than that, London has so much to offer, I cannot imagine living anywhere else.

On the basis of the above can you give us all a top tip on wine buying please!!

Try something new and different - you might just like it. Don’t stick to the same familiar wines. Try something from Alsace, or Portugal, or a grape variety you have not had before. I love Chardonnay and Shiraz, but variety really is the spice of life when it comes to wine.


In your opinion what makes Suzanne James Catering different from other catering companies?

It has to be attention to detail. Checking, checking, checking every aspect of an event to ensure it runs like clockwork, and having a team that is so intent on making sure each event is unique and memorable.