Harriet Brown - Lobby Talks Review

By chris fletcher

Harriet Brown - Lobby Talks Review

The blog series was written by your favourite member of Otolo and offers you a summary of our last Lobby Talks event.

Getting to know Harriet, a Food Waste Warrior  

Harriet Brown is the Key Account Manager of Too Good To Go, a mobile application that connects customers to restaurants and stores that have unsold food surplus. She is known as a “food waste warrior obsessed with all things hospitality”. 

Fun Fact: She’s lived across the world. You can find out where she’s lived by watching her Career in 60 Seconds video down below. 

A Hotel that Sparked a Love for Hospitality 

We always start the livestream with an explanation of the hotel lobby chosen by the guest; in this Lobby Talks, Harriet Brown picked the Corinthia Hotel Budapest. “This is where my love of hospitality began. My parents are diplomats, so we spent a lot of our younger years travelling around the world, and we lived in Budapest for a few years. I was 15 and needed to do some work experience so luckily, my mum met the general manager of the Corinthia and he invited me to do 2 weeks of work experience across the hotel. I spent time in housekeeping, kitchen, reception, events, concierge, spa and I fell in love with the place. The pressure combined with the excitement. It was really glamorous and I’ve worked in hospitality since then.”

Next, Harriet ran us through her Career in 60 Seconds – check out the video below where she gives us a summary of her career.  


Helping Others – Career Highlights  

The next section is called Good Day / Bad Day, where the guest describes a certain day that they remember in a positive way, and one in a negative way. “My best day was back when I worked in recruitment. 2 years prior to that, I met a lovely Spanish chef that had just come to London from a small town in Spain. He had cooking experience in family-run bistro-type tapas bars. He had come to london and his ambition was to find a role in a kitchen that would win him a michelin star. It was a very particular vision, and it meant that I was looking for a restaurant that hasn’t yet won a star and would take on a fairly green chef. We found that place for him and he started working there as a Commis chef.  

Cut forward to two years later: I get a phone call from this chef who says “Harriet, we have won a Michelin star and I have been promoted to Chef de Partie”. I was so thrilled because I was able to, in some part, help him to achieve his dream. It made me really proud to be doing what I was doing.”  

An Unexpected Visit from an EHO – Career Highlights  

“Unfortunately, this is a day back on the floor. It sticks in my memory and I’m not sure why. I was on an all-day shift, and one of the loo cubicles was leaking in the morning. Put the yellow floor sign out, locked it up and the plumber started fixing it. Then, just before lunch service kicks off, in walks one of the Environmental Health Officers. Even though we knew we were absolutely spot on, there was still that fear present and we were panicking. Customers were coming for lunch, and the kitchen are dealing with that while lunch is going on. Just before dinner service starts, one of the team starts to feel really ill. We sent them home and we were one person down. Somehow, we made it through the service, and sat down at the end and thought “Thank God that day is over”. That evening was tough.”  

“It feels like you’re walking through mud and everything is going in slow motion.” – Harriet Brown 

UK Hospitality Industry – An Amazing Hotel Experience 

The premise for this section is imagining that the world is ending tomorrow, but you have VIP access to any hotel, restaurant and event. Where would you go and what would you eat? 

This is the second-hardest question to my “desert island dinner”, which I think about all the time. I thought about going somewhere glamourous like the Maldives, but actually, I think the UK hospitality industry is amazing. Recently, as I’ve been working with hotels who are really working to improve their sustainability, I discovered Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. They have a huge garden where they grow all of their produce and have a lot of processes to be waste-free. I would drive down, spend the afternoon exploring the gardens, and then go for their 8-course, 2 Michelin Star dinner. I would then stay in their 5-star hotel. “The last event I would go to is a wedding. I would crash a wedding. They are so beautiful and filled with love. I’m going to one this weekend and my friend feels like it’s her second job; organising their wedding. They’ve been so affected by COVID so it’s really nice to see these businesses get back into full swing.”  

Advice on Being Less Wasteful While Also Being Profitable  

Check out the video below where Harriet shares her words of wisdom and advice.


The Checkout

A huge, huge “thank you” to Harriet for sharing her knowledge with us, we especially loved the advice she gave about working in a sustainable and profitable way. 

Key Takeaways 

1. “Experience on the floor is essential” 

2. “See the benefit of balancing profit and purpose” 

3. “It’s not expensive to be sustainable” 

4. “If you’re wasting less it’s cheaper