Who is the woman behind Hygiene Sue?
“Someone with enthusiasm learns far more quickly and with a better commitment than a person learning by rote or from a textbook “
I was hooked from a young age to the fine arts of cooking and the mysterious cuisines of the world at large. Armed with buckets of enthusiasm and youthful energy I worked in any kitchen that would entertain me including under Albert Roux at ‘Le Gavroche’ and Marco Pierre White at ‘Harveys’ and Roger Vergé in Cannes,France - until I found myself being offered the job of head chef at the Combe House hotel in Devon, a few days shy of my 22nd Birthday. I accepted!
Work experience also took me to Hong Kong where I cooked as a private chef and then to Santa Barbara at the Waterside.
The time I spent in those environments opened my eyes to new cultures and possibilities which I enjoyed immensely, but ultimately, when I returned home, I knew that my future lay elsewhere. 18 months after becoming Head Chef at Combe House. I opened Eglantine Restaurant in Tunbridge Wells and for the next 7 years it was my passion. It was incredibly hard but incredibly rewarding work.
The rest of my 20’s were spent thriving off the continual challenges of running a business, but as recession swept through the UK in the early 90’s I found myself faced with a choice: to spend more and more time worrying about the financial side of things or let go and rededicate myself to the pleasure of simply cooking.
‘Giving Inspiration back’ - Sue Richardson Managing Director Hygiene Sue
“Someone with enthusiasm learns far more quickly and with a better commitment than a person learning by rote or from a textbook -I’ve seen it time and again. For me at least, nothing beats being able to look someone in the eye, both knowing -teacher and learner- that you’ve given your best.
Over time, setbacks are something that every mentor will naturally experience, but ultimately, those disappointments have enabled me to evolve as a person, allowing me to more ably identify how to get the very best from an individual. It is as much a mindset as it is a skill set. It makes me proud to be in this position and one that I consider to be very much a privilege.”
In the Autumn of 1996 I set up Eglantine Catering Ltd where all sizes of events from intimate Dinner parties to lavish Weddings were catered for; I also began teaching for the first time.
Into the new millennium I divided my time between outside catering and teaching but as I developed both sides of my career, my life came to a crossroads. A generic heart defect forced me to have major surgery in early 2002 and as I underwent successful rehabilitation I decided that I would focus my energies on teaching. During my sabbatical I obtained a degree (in ‘Lifelong Education’) and then I began teaching full time at the Asian Oriental School,London.
As well as teaching and assessment I worked as a training coordinator on a 2 year, government funded hygiene awareness project, based in China town in London. When the project ended in the spring of 2007 -and after 4 years in total- I left the school to begin afresh.
I felt the need for a new challenge and equipped with a multitude of lessons learned in all aspects of the hospitality industry over 3 decades, I was energised and ready for the next chapter of my life to be served.
From -fittingly- the dining table in my house, the earliest incarnation of Hygiene Sue began. My aim was to teach a wide variety of courses in the hospitality industry, with the emphasis on inspiring people the way I had been when I was starting out. During this formative period, I was approached by West Kent College to form a partnership with them, assessing their training needs and to deliver NVQ’s. Now the hard work really began.
Soon our results saw us also partnering with other colleges; Chichester College and John Ruskins in Croydon and over the next few years Hygiene Sue expanded rapidly. Today Hygiene Sue has a broad base of clients from bars, restaurants and Hotels to the needs of the yachting elite and the travel industry teaching Management leadership, customer care and business skills alongside the food safety and Hygiene skills.
With my experience has come a wealth of knowledge, I have managed people, led teams. managed clients and taught to a high standard. With life, I have learned many skills from food to management skills to leadership and I can offer a varied but experienced number of courses.
From its humble beginnings in my home to an office in the centre of Tunbridge Wells (between the Train Station and the Pantiles) with training facilities, Hygiene Sue has become established as a well-respected and trusted name in any industry.