It all started with a request for a writing and proofreading training course from Pret Academy, Pret a Manger’s training division. A meeting followed to discuss the course content and, when the meeting was coming to a close, I was asked whether I would like to spend half a day at one of Pret’s shops as a familiarisation exercise. It was an unusual request, but it is something Pret asks all its suppliers to do, and I could see that it would provide useful background information.
On the agreed date I set off armed with a pair of sensible shoes, hair clips and short, clean nails, all requirements listed on the information sheet I received in advance, to Pret a Manger on The Strand in London.
Given that I am not known for my manual dexterity (after I had broken several mixing bowls, it was politely suggested to me at school that I might find Latin more to my taste than cookery …), I was a little apprehensive. I had visions of being politely but firmly ushered off the premises with a trail of broken crockery in my wake. The staff soon put me at ease, however, and nothing breakable was put in my way. I spent time with the manager learning about the business and the company culture, time in the kitchen making tuna niçoise salads – under strict supervision and armed with a fetching blue hairnet and plastic gloves – and time up in the shop. I wasn’t allowed to serve any customers, but I did make my own flat white coffee (with a lot of help from the barista) and I also went out with a staff member to deliver buffet lunches to some local businesses.
Pret a Train
I have been a fan of Pret for a long time, and always seek them out when I am out and in need of a snack. I am even more enthusiastic about them now. I was very impressed with their hygiene, and health and safety standards, and the staff were all very welcoming and friendly – not surprising given that the company looks after its staff well. Understanding Pret’s business and culture did make a big difference. It was a very welcome opportunity to get to know a client better and, of course, I can now add preparing tuna niçoise salads to my CV!