Interview with chef, entrepreneur and philanthropist Chris Galvin
23 May 2019

Chris and Jeff Galvin, the Michelin-starred Galvin Brothers, have a portfolio of restaurants in London and Dubai, including Galvin at Windows and Galvin La Chapelle.

Ten years ago, Chris and Fred Sirieix, General Manager at Galvin at Windows, set up Galvin’s Chance, an into-work programme helping disadvantaged young people. It provides them with training and opportunities for front-of-house careers in some of London’s most prestigious hotels, restaurants and food-service businesses. The Galvin USP is ‘Family’ so the programme has been a real passion for them both.

Delivered in partnership with the DM Thomas Foundation for Young People and The Springboard Charity, the programme has helped change the lives of over 170 young people. Chris told us why investing in people is so important to him.

What prompted you to start Galvin’s Chance?

Around ten years ago, Fred and I were talking about crime in London and how easy it is to get in with the wrong crowd. But there’s goodness in everyone –you have to find it and give someone a chance.

I wasn’t great at school and wanted a chance to prove myself, and most people would like that too. So, that’s how we came up with the programme and the name Galvin’s Chance.

What types of supporters have you attracted since starting the programme?

We’re working with around 40 partners now, who offer training and opportunities. We’re lucky with all our partners. I see legends of the industry in the same room as youngsters who have come to us from probation and social workers, and it always humbles me that these people take time out to help someone else.

It costs about £1,700 to put someone through the programme, so we’re thrilled that 7IM’s support will help us put more youngsters through.

How did you get your start in hospitality, and who helped you along the way?

My dad disappeared when I was 15 and we had no money. I’d always loved cooking at school, so I knocked on the door of a local restaurant and got a job washing up. It gave me instant family, food, warmth and money, and I loved it!

Antony Worrall Thompson – who went on to become a celebrity chef – was the number two chef at the time, and I worked closely with him. When I was 26, he got me a job in New York and my career has thrived ever since.

How do you deal with the challenge of managing people from difficult backgrounds?

The tide of life has been against these people, and they can be fragile, so we give them a few buddies at the beginning. A lot of the time, it’s getting used to a routine of waking up early – we even buy them extra alarm clocks! They’ve shown a willingness to want to change just by getting on the course, but it’s easier said than done.

It doesn’t always work. Of about 24 youngsters a year, probably 18 come through to the other end, and you have to accept you can’t always win. But if we get just one person through, I’m really happy – you need to give back, it’s important.

7IM are delighted to be supporting Galvin’s Chance, a DM Thomas Foundation programme. Over the years we’ve worked closely with a number of the Galvin’s Chance hospitality partners for events and client dinners, and know the importance of helping to train and support young people getting into work within the hospitality industry. Although we only started our partnership this year, we’ve been privileged enough to join the selection day, the awards ceremony, and we’ve seen some huge success stories.  We look forward to seeing many more.

In addition to this, a number of the 7IM team are proud to be taking part in the Mayfair Power & Tower Race in May this year, raising money for the programme. To keep up with our progress, stay tuned to our social media pages!

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