Luke Blackall: From fashion's art of walking to kitchen fisticuffs

Man About Town: Galvin's Chance introduces young people to the possibilities of work in the hospitality industry
  • @lukeblackall

The week started gracefully, with a nice reminder about how lucky I am to have my job. I watched models make an art of walking at London Fashion Week and had a chance to chat environmental politics to Dame Vivienne Westwood. Later that evening I headed to London's South Bank as the hugely popular Parisian burlesque (read "clothes-free") show, Crazy Horse, arrived in town for its temporary residence. From that French treat, I enjoyed another as I was then fortunate enough to head to Champagne for the launch of Moët & Chandon's 2004 vintage.

Given the pattern of the week, the logical place that I should have spent Thursday night was at the genteel launch of the World Chess Championships at Somerset House.

Instead, I spent it in a gentlemen's club on Pall Mall watching a succession of sweating, grunting men and women, beat each other up.

The event was the Kitchen Rumble, where some of the leading lights from the hospitality world tried to their hardest to knock each other's lights out.

My friend Joseph Ryan from Aura nightclub was one of the first up, while top restaurant managers such as Fred Sirieix (the brains and energy behind the charity), Michele Caggianese from The Rib Room and the Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing were also taking part.

Although the competitors may say otherwise, the results seemed largely irrelevant next to both the effort they put in and the fact that the night raised over £55,000 for the Galvin's Chance charity.

It's a cause that I have written about before, but one that, if anything, is even more of an issue today. The organisation introduces and trains young people, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, to the possibilities of work in the hospitality industry.

Youth unemployment in the UK and Europe is an ongoing concern, with many able people struggling to find work. At the same time, however, there remain many unfilled UK jobs as waiters and front-of-house staff. But the cause is more than simply that; it's also about treating young people like adults and introducing them to the world of work.

My generation are lucky to have been born when they were. A few years later and many of us would have struggled too. So it's a reminder that we should be grateful to have a job at all.