Chef moved family into Hatfield hotel during lockdown to support key workers
PUBLISHED: 12:52 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:52 09 July 2020
A chef moved his family into a Hatfield hotel while covering the night porter, security and housekeeping duties to keep the business running.
The Mercure Hatfield Oak Hotel’s Adrian Dumatrache had to take over much of the running of the hotel as many of the staff were furloughed during the pandemic due to the reduced occupancy, around 50 per cent, which was set aside just for key workers, through most of the lockdown.
General manager Katherine Webster-Brown said as there were only four staff, two during the day and two at night, Adrian volunteered to be one of the night workers.
“He moved into the hotel, with his wife and teenage son,” Katherine said. “We provided him with training in the areas he was less familiar with, and he really got stuck in, helping to keep the hotel running and making sure his colleagues have jobs to come back to now that we are able to open to the public again.
“Being a chef, Adrian is well aware of the importance of practising good hygiene, but he proved himself to be extremely adaptable and has been absolutely brilliant.”
The 42-year-old, who has been a chef since 2005, came to England from Romania in 2016, and became head chef in August last year.
He said: “We have a small team and I always want to give 100 percent when I work. So, when they said they needed someone to work here at night during the lockdown, I asked my family first and then said yes.
“The hotel was closed [for three weeks] to start with, so I did some security work, but we then opened for key workers, and I chose to do the overnight shifts.
“I asked my colleagues to teach me what I needed to so, so that I would not have to keep calling them, so I learned how to make a booking and how to answer the telephone.”
He added: “I have enjoyed all the work, because I have been able to have fun. It is all about the people you have around you, and this is the best team I have ever worked with.”
His wife, Kristina, and their 17-year-old son, Alexander, have been living with him at the hotel, together with the family dog, Bruno – a Shar Pei.
They brought Alexander’s computer with them so that he could continue his college studies while living at the hotel.
Adrian said the hardest thing about the past few months has been not being able to cook properly. “I missed cooking in the kitchen, it is my passion and what I love to do.
The hotel re-opened to the public last weekend, and Adrian is now back in the kitchen and doing what he loves most.
Katherine added: “Adrian kept pestering me all the time, asking when could he start cooking again, so it was just as well we were able to keep him occupied with lots of other tasks.”
But, Adrian does not think he will be back housekeeping at home. He said, jokingly, “When I go home, I hope I will be able to put my feet up!”
Lynn Hood, chief operating officer of Focus Hotels, who owns the Mercure, said: “At times of crisis, you hope that everyone will come together and do whatever it takes to help keep their business running.
“It can often mean people have to step out of their comfort zones and do things that they are not familiar with, have never done before or never thought they would ever do.
“Adrian is a shining example of a true ‘team player’, taking on a variety of extra tasks and roles, always with a positive attitude and a smile.
“We’re proud to have staff like him as part of the Focus team, and would like to thank him for all his efforts and for spreading a bit of light during what has been some very difficult, and dark, times.”
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