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‘He’s doing the pots with a Rolex on’: Staff amazed when hotel boss washes dishes

PUBLISHED: 06:00 14 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:30 14 August 2020

Boss becomes pot washer: Philip Turner, left, mucks in with the rest of the kitchen crew. Pic: Philip Turner

Boss becomes pot washer: Philip Turner, left, mucks in with the rest of the kitchen crew. Pic: Philip Turner

Archant

A Norfolk businessman stunned his kitchen workers by helping out as pot washer for a gruelling eight-hour stint.

Philip Turner, who owns the Chestnut Group of 11 inns and pubs. Pic: ArchantPhilip Turner, who owns the Chestnut Group of 11 inns and pubs. Pic: Archant

Philip Turner, chief executive of the Chestnut Group, who owns 11 inns including the Globe at Wells-Next-The-Sea, always told his staff not to do anything he was not prepared to do himself.

But he found himself living up to the adage and literally rolling up his sleeves for work when he spent an entire shift doing the dishes for 140 diners booked in to one of his inns.

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Philip Turner, CEO of the Chestnut Group, on the right side of his restaurant bar instead of in the kitchen. Pic: ArchantPhilip Turner, CEO of the Chestnut Group, on the right side of his restaurant bar instead of in the kitchen. Pic: Archant

He said his venues had been crazily busy as a result of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme with the Crown in Stoke By Nayland, on the Suffolk/Essex border doing a huge amount of covers on Monday night.

When it came to Tuesday, with 140 more bookings that evening, staff expressed their concern that they could not wash dishes fast enough and Mr Turner, as a bit of a joke, volunteered his services.

“I said to the manager, ‘look I’ll do it, just tell me where and when and I’ll be there.’ Lo and behold, I got an email through later that day telling me to start at 5pm.

Philip Turner, CEO of the Chestnut Group, delivering hot meals to NHS front line staff during lockdown. Pic: submittedPhilip Turner, CEO of the Chestnut Group, delivering hot meals to NHS front line staff during lockdown. Pic: submitted

“I drove over for 5pm and was there until 12.45am. I had my hands in the sink for literally six-seven hours. At one point, I told them: ‘Just don’t sell any more of the fish dish’ because every time someone ordered it. I had to wash another pan. I said: ‘Just sell steaks and burgers’.

“Then Spencer the chef saw I was washing with my watch on. He said: ‘Boss, is that a Rolex? I said ‘yes, it’s not a fake’ and he said: ‘He’s doing the pots with a Rolex on, I’ve seen it all now’.

“I must have drunk about seven-eight pints of water because of the temperature and when I got home, my head was buzzing and my wife got me to put some handcream on.

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“Seriously, I learned about a big part of our business, there was a great atmosphere in the kitchen, lots of banter and I’ve always had huge respect for those in the kitchen but even more so now. It was about helping my team, it was a great morale booster, an injection of positivity.”

In fact he made such good friends with fellow pot washer Charlie that when Mr Turner found out he faced an hour’s journey home in the early hours on his moped, he got a bed made up for him for the night at the Crown.

“I think people underestimated the take-up of the Eat Out scheme, usually Monday is a day when the kitchen can catch up but at all my businesses, they were on their knees after being so busy. The Globe at Wells has been phenomenally busy but we can’t complain, we’ve got 11 five star EHO, Environmental Health Officer-rated kitchens, we are open and trying as hard as we can.

“The next day, my daughter said: ‘Dad did you get paid?’ I said ‘no’ but actually I could have done with £50 to pay for the back massage I needed after.”

Mr Turner closed all of his businesses on lockdown but set to work with his teams throughout the coronavirus outbreak giving away 300 hot meals a week to NHS front line staff.


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