WHAT IS COUNTERTALK?
Countertalk is a platform creating meaningful change in the hospitality industry from the top down and the bottom up, helping people and businesses thrive through providing resources and opportunity, inspiring meaningful conversations, nurturing connections and building empowered community.
Positive working culture and opportunities to progress should be for everyone, not just a few people lucky enough to have personal connections. We believe that by clarifying positive ways of working, by shining a light on those people and companies who are leading by example, by bridging the gap between employers and employees, and by presenting opportunities which lead to constructive progress both for individuals and for the industry, we are laying the foundations and actionable framework for industry-wide change.
Countertalk exists for and because of the community built around it, from owners of multi-site operations to first-job industry newbies and every single person in between. We are the only hospitality network to focus equally on every stage of your career, and keep providing you with value every step of the way. We know that it is crucial to avoid an us-and-them attitude between front of house, back of house, office, staff, managers and owners. Countertalk creates the atmosphere of transparency, understanding and respect which is key in creating the positive culture within each establishment’s community, and in our wider industry.
We build community through the conversations we start, the networks we build through our social media and our events, and the number of people who rely on our resources. We also have ever-growing Whatsapp groups in which community members can support each other with their expertise and invaluable experience – covering pastry chefs, HR, women in management, even a marketplace for kitchen equipment.
We understand the information that people need to move forward and make the most of their careers and their businesses. We put together tangible information about a wide range of interests and concerns both for employers and employees, with subjects ranging from mental health guidance, to understanding legislation around pay, to protecting your intellectual property, and many many others. Our founding principle has always been listen – act – get feedback – repeat, so the resources we generate are always based on the conversations and concerns of our community.
We have a trusted network of professionals and up-and-coming voices who can give community real-time advice from the coal face. Each one is selected for the unique angle they bring to each discipline, and we are always open to contributions from experts who share our values and our vision for the industry.
We aim to be the go-to, trusted site to list and to find jobs which pay right and treat fairly. We don’t list all hospitality jobs, we only list with employers who we know share the Countertalk values.
Employers create a profile then list their jobs on our site, choosing from three tiers which will give them varying levels of exposure on Countertalk channels (newsletters, social media and website). Applicants will create a profile, including personal details not usually found on a CV, which will give potential employers an in-depth picture of who they are and what they care about.
What is our vetting process?
We rely on our own in-depth industry knowledge and connections, plus – crucially – the feedback and intel provided by the Countertalk community. When a job is listed we personally vet each one before it goes ‘live’.
If there are concerns about the level of pay in relation to responsibilities or hours, we will call the employer and work with them to ensure that this is rectified before we are able to list it. Often this will come down to a lack of understanding of industry benchmarks, or a miscalculation, which can easily be rectified.
As a trusted safe space, we receive frequent messages from our community notifying us about bad employer practice. It is our responsibility to investigate whether this information relates to a specific grievance or whether it is indicative of wider cultural issues. We will speak to the employer, ensuring that all feedback presented is anonymised and free of any identifying details. If we find that there is a problematic environment or problematic elements, we welcome them to participate in a detailed anonymised employee survey from which we provide recommendations after analysis. If they are willing to enter into that process, we do not list jobs until it is complete and we are able to prove that the recommendations have been implemented in an impactful manner.
Countertalk offers a more tailored recruitment service across a selective range of operators, acting as an additional voice and face in the employment market – an extension of the establishment’s in-house recruitment team. With a strong relationship with senior management teams, we’re able to dive deep into the ethos, requirements and overarching culture of a business. This allows us to not only match great candidates who may have otherwise been missed, but also to act in a consultative capacity.
Through our recruitment arm, we hand select candidates who are a great match for hard-to-fill vacancies, respond to specific briefs when assessing how to develop a workforce, and create and deploy clear and proactive strategies for new openings and employer brand development.
COUNTERTALK SPACES is a bridge between establishments who wish to generate revenue and marketing through their under-used spaces, and ambitious individuals looking for a venue.
The challenging trading environment means that restaurants, cafes, pubs and other hospitality/food spaces need to get more creative about revenue. Making use of under-used space or dead/closed hours means that additional revenue can be generated.
Pop-ups, supper clubs and residencies are a fantastic way for food professionals to make a name for themselves, prove concepts before opening a permanent site, or widen their horizons beyond their daily workplace. These opportunities are invaluable, but we found that the temporary venue economy relied almost exclusively on word-of-mouth.
Our COUNTERTALK SPACES platform opens up these opportunities to everyone, regardless of personal network, so that information and access is democratised. Venues list their spaces on the platform including full visibility of crucial details such as covers, price and equipment. Residents can filter venues by the criteria which makes them most suitable for their vision. Hosts pay a small monthly subscription charge to Countertalk, but Residents only pay the venue. Everybody wins.
We are pleased to work with a select number of companies which share our ethos, passion, and vision for the hospitality industry, and our emphasis is always on the value that the partnership will bring our community – whether that is in give-aways of products that we respect and use, or enabling us to put on brilliant events which bring our community together in real life, or providing expert insight, education and opportunity.
Ravneet Gill started Countertalk in 2018. An experienced pastry chef, she had experienced all the lows of the hospitality industry – negative workplace environments, unsustainable hours, bad practice and bad behaviours – but it wasn’t until she started working at St. JOHN Restaurant that she realised what the highs could be. She set up Countertalk to democratise access to those positive workplaces and progression, and to showcase what an incredible career hospitality can be.
Putting Countertalk on pause when the pandemic hit in 2020, Rav relaunched in 2021 with a wider remit and a renewed vigour to assist a struggling industry. Max and Kitty came on board at this point, with Jeanne joining in 2022.
Head of Sales and Business Development
Max has a background both as a chef in high-end kitchens, and in recruitment. He comes to Countertalk from CODE hospitality.
Head of Communications and Brand
Kitty has been responsible for carving out a brand voice for St. JOHN, underpinning its relevance and prestige over the last ten years.
Jeanne has a background in food anthropology, with experience working in sales, kitchens & bakeries, and teaching for cookery and fermentation schools.
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?