Sunday, 19 September 2010

Penny at Grub

Having had some wonderful discussions recently with friends and acquaintances about both past and current hospitality luminaries, and continuing my thoughts late into the night as I lie in bed trying to get to sleep, I decided that writing about them would be a good way to perpetuate their memory, or highlight their achievements.

Today, my first ‘target/victim’ is Penny Brewer – owner and all-round competent worker at Grub Café in New Town.

I first heard about Penny, and Grub Café, a few years ago when my daughter Bec mentioned to me that a school friend of hers had started a café in New Town and that I should go there and check it out. Naturally, being a good mother, I ignored what she said and didn’t do that, till a few years later when I eventually got around to popping in to Grub, meeting Penny, eating some food there and chatting with her. My review from then is here on this blogsite.

I was mega-impressed with Penny then. Today she has risen to the highest level of my estimations. She has to be THE most unassuming but inspired young person around the hospitality industry in Hobart.

Penny’s ideals, morals, diligence, conscience and devotion to her trade/craft make her my nomination for Young Australian of any year. She is quiet but 100% passionate about what she does, and she lives and breathes hospitality every waking moment of her life.

She borders on shy, but rapidly looses her shyness once you get her started in conversation about the 60 (this year) Ogilvie High students she is providing hands-on hospitality training for in her café, or her plans for her café.

We have all met the seasoned, experienced, gnarled, cynical old hospitality stalwart, who has ‘been there and done that’ countless times, and seen everything, and in so doing, has lost a lot of their original humanity and humour which probably made them a delight to be with, or work with, 20 years ago, but now leaves them, quite frankly, a pain in the arse today!

Penny is the antithesis of that person. She is young, vital, caring, enthusiastic, hopeful, effervescent, active. When she sees something that needs doing, or addressing, she hops in there (quietly) with no fanfare, and does it. That’s how she got started with the hospitality training relationship she has developed with Ogilvie High. She’s an ex-Ogilvie student, who was aware of the way the system worked, what its faults and foibles were, and how she could inject something into the upcoming future hospitality workers here – so started quietly and slowly delivering on-the-job, practical skills training to a few students, to the stage she’s at now: with a fully developed locally-slanted and relevant professional training program for young people with any kind of desire to enter the industry.

I think one of the reasons many of our youth are put off the industry has to do with the training they receive at the various training institutions. That’s not to say the training itself is shabby. It’s not. Those many people currently delivering the training are close friends of mine, and excellent at what they do. But I believe the actual system of how that training is delivered leaves a lot to be desired.

At Grub, Penny delivers a low impact but thoroughly professional training program which does not put overly too much pressure on the young ones to perform or die! They are instructed empathetically in a smaller, nurturing environment which is not highly technical, and highly staffed with obvious professionals – which I would imagine would scare the crap out of someone new to that environment!

Grub’s training provides a little taster for these high school students of what life could be like and what they might expect earning their living in the hospitality environment.

I ate at Grub on Friday night. Penny has a $10 roast special going there three or four nights a week. On Friday we had a choice between Roast Lamb or Pork. I chose the Lamb and found it excellent value for money, especially if you’ve looked at the price of lamb lately! We didn’t get greens with it, but, hell, for $10 we got roast lamb, potatoes, pumpkin and a copious amount of yummy gravy. What more could you ask for? I could see why you needed to book in for an evening meal there, as she was busy all through the meal period, with most customers obviously being return diners.

I think we, the older generation, leave the hospitality industry in excellent hands if people the calibre of Penny continue plying their trade here.
Posted on by Rita


Anonymous said...

garagistes has been checked out by what looks like the entire hobart hospitality industry already-anyone got any reports? stand back and watch as the imitators start to copy

Anonymous said...

That food sounds ridiculously cheap to me Rita

Forde Montgomery said...

That is often the difference: the older types complain about why they can't make it, whilst the young(er) turks make it happen.

lemon curd said...

Nice one Rita - beautifully timed post :)

Garagistes - went there a week or so ago now, had a great meal. It all just feels right, everything considered, everything balanced. Shared two main plates and a dessert with a $56 bottle of vin and came out at $110 for dinner. Good price in anyones books, especially for exciting innovative food.

Christina said...

I think Penny is fantastic.
My daughter was one of the lucky students who had the opportunity to have some work experience with Grub, and she loved it.
While Kayleigh was there I popped in one day to see how she was doing and had the pleasure of meeting Penny and having a great chat with her. I really admire her outlook and am thankful for the opportunities she gives to the students at Ogilvie. Ogilvie High are in the process of getting a new school canteen and I know Penny has had a helping hand in the process, as just after I met her, she came to visit me in my canteen at Montrose High with one the teachers.
I'd like to also mention that Kathy at the Greenstore in Newtown also takes on some students from Ogilvie as my youngest daughter Meg has work placement there Tuesday and Wednesday and she loves it!
A great post Rita on the quiet achievers of Hobart and the help they give to our young ones.

Duck Leg said...

Cheers to Penny at Grub!!
Your words are so true, she is a champion of her craft and always puts everyone before herself.

Brook said...

I would like to add that Penny has done this training without any renumeration for the past two years and even now only gets the equivalent of $1 an hour. She has been nominated for Training Awards in various categories and has been a Finalist for two years running. A great role model for younger and older people to follow.

Susannah said...

Completely unrelated post -
I called in to Sweet Envy last weekend - OMG!!!! the cupcakes etc looked amazing, but I fell in love with the macarons! A lovely selection of different flavours - I selected 4 to take home and share with my daughter. Friends who came into the shop with me were fulsome in their praise of cupcakes, and a special mention was made of the fantastic coffee and chocolate icecream.

And trying to find a spot for coffee after 3.30 on an afternoon? Really difficult, Rita. I'm not surprised you had so much trouble. Although i suspect Hobart is not unique. I had the same trouble when holidaying in Seattle (although I could of course have visited Starbucks....)