Back in the day - work placement at Digbys Nightclub, Leeds.
It started, as these success stories often do, with a grope in the dark, so to speak, when he was 16. He took a cooking course at Thomas Danby college in his hometown of Leeds - “in those days, the choice was either a catering career or train to become a teacher”(printer and builder also may have been mentioned!) - and after three years he had his B Tech Diploma
The course was hands-on with active work experience in a hotel owned by Spike Milligan’s sister (The Langdale Hotel, chapel Stile, Cumbria), where Le Fet worked for one month in the restaurant, one in the kitchen and one in reception, an experience which set the fledgling chef up for life.
A life of cooking with a huge dash of business acumen thrown in.
“You know, I’m still in contact with my friends from uni, and out of the 30 of them, only three are still in catering.”
The uni in question is Leeds Polytechnic where Le Fet went on to study hotel management. He wanted to understand all aspects of the hospitality business but through the eyes of a chef, because it’s a well-known fact that for a hotel manager, chefs are the most problematic. They are moody, artistic, want everything their own way and are armed with cleavers and what not.
I mean, would you like to manage Gordon Ramsay?
So with a lot of theoretical and practical knowledge under his belt, our young chef/ chef handler started thinking that he could not only live away from Leeds, he could actually live abroad.
The purposeful serendipity of
By Cecilie Gamst Berg (Fill ins by McFet)
“You have to get on with it, you know!”
John McFetridge, chef, hospitality worker, resort coach, banqueting manager, guesthouse owner and now editor-in-chief of this very magazine, is not letting the Covid restrictions hold him back.
Dashing between Mallorca and the south of France, whence he is planning to import wine to our island – perhaps he thought the expression coals to Newcastle needed a facelift – Le Fet, as I call him, is in a fever of activity.
I catch him in his sundrenched living room overlooking Palma Bay where he sits down for a change, making plans for this magazine as well as turning over the many other irons he has in the fire. During our talk his eyes travel frequently to the cooker and I can tell he is gagging to stir the pots.
For it is perhaps cooking that is the Fet Chef’s longest and most ardent love.
A four month stay in Switzerland turned into four years, and he learnt and got hooked on skiing while working in a resort near Lausanne. (Three summers spent working at the fabulous Voile D'or in Lausanne and four winters at the Hotel Farinet, Verbier)
This is when it gets tricky – for me! This man has done so much in such a short time that it’s hard for me to take intelligible notes.
Ski instructor (Champéry, Switzerland Red carpet)
Set up company (Catered Chalet Holidays, Courchevel)
Flipping burgers well paid (Perisher Valley Hotel, Australia)
All the jobs seem to weave in and out of one another, the stories frequently leading the bespectacled Fet to stop in mid thought:
“That reminds me of a story from the London Olympics…” “That reminds me of when I worked at Ascot …” “one time when I lived in Australia…”
For there’s hardly a plot of land on earth where this man hasn’t worked, cooked, herded tourists – “I worked in France as a resort rep, with 100 clients a week! That was FUN!” – managed hotels, catered in chalets, been a banqueting manager, owned and run guesthouses and of course edited online magazines.
Photo by Summit Photography
“Oh, you mean Mountain Relish? Yes, that was actually more of a website that I started for myself and three other caterers for resorts and chalets in France, to be used as a go-to reference for people who needed caterers. That website is still going. www.mountain-relish.com
“I had spent four years in France owning a guesthouse with a girlfriend and we ran it as a bed and breakfast, which lead to us catering for other chalets around the area, which led to me training other people in how to cater to people buying and living in French chalets… but that was as well as running my company Winter Adventure catering for chalets in the Alps for 12 years, which overlapped with… which reminds me…”
You get the picture.
To sum it up, McFetridge used all this experience in the various aspects of the hospitality industry combined with a genuine liking for people and a sense of adventure to turn all these endeavours into successes.
“...so when I came to Mallorca in 2015, I got the idea to start a website like Mountain Relish for caterers here in Mallorca too. And then I thought, why not start a resource, an online magazine, showcasing other services too?”
As with much of the directions Le Fet has darted in, coming to Mallorca was half serendipity, half purposeful decision making based on love. Here is where my notes get mangled again:
Girlfriend Costa Rica
Spanish course Barcelona
London Olympics 2012 events team
Ryanair cheap flights
… and that’s how he ended up in Mallorca.
London Olympics 2012
Was very proud to be part of this
Like many entrepreneurs, he sees the situation brought on by a virus as a great opportunity, not a cause for doom and gloom.
“These are very exciting times! I see lots of opportunities. It’s a free-for-all! At this moment anything is possible. For example, I’m planning to start a delivery service of Indian food that people can heat up in their offices or at home – well, their home offices! And another idea I’m working on with a friend is importing French wines. I’m also planning to set up a cache of stock photography, only for Mallorca! And then…”
Whoever decided that the day should only have 24 hours has a lot to answer for.
Contact John McFetridge for tips, stories, undertakings, entrepreneurialism and services offered!
My first ever trip abroad was to Santa Ponsa at 16 years old...30+ years later I am happy to be back in this amazing place living the dream!