The Lowdown: Fred’s Last Resort

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: Fred’s Last Resort/E4
Photo: Fred’s Last Resort/E4

Related tags Fred Sirieix Television Recruitment Hospitality Jobs Staff Training

Fred Sirieix is tackling the sector’s recruitment crisis once again with a new TV show which sees a dozen young Brits battle it out for a job in high-end hospitality.

If he really wants to plug the labour shortage, shouldn’t he offer a job to all 12 of them?
It’s a fair point. Although based on the first episode, it’s probably fair to say that not all of them are suited to career in hospitality.

What’s the set up?
Sirieix, who describes himself in the show as the ‘high priest’ of hospitality service, is sending 12 young Brits – who all say they want to ‘change their lives forever’ – to the French Riviera to run a luxury hotel. At the end of the series, the best of the bunch will win a top job and a cash prize of £10,000. To be in with a chance of winning it, though, they'll need to make it to the end of the summer season.

Sounds a bit like The Apprentice ​with parasols
There are certainly similarities in the show’s structure, which features a series of tasks designed to immerse the recruits in every aspect of the hospitality business. That includes housekeeping, restaurant service, hotel reception, valet, and even planning luxury wine parties for the hotel’s monied guests. Thankfully, though, unlike The Apprentice​, there’s far fewer egos to be found here. The 12 contestants come from a wide range of backgrounds. There’s a content creator keen to provide for his new baby; a boxer looking to find a long-term career; a farmer who wants a life beyond the stiles; and a supermarket checkout assistant who’s apparently sick of scanning asparagus spears through the till.

Are all of the people taking part new to the hospitality industry?
Interestingly, no. Other participants include a waitress at a pizza restaurant, a barista, and a bar worker.

Isn’t it detrimental to the show’s message to have people from within the industry say they want to ‘change their lives forever’?
A cynic could easily read it that way. However, it actually highlights one of the major obstacles faced by the sector, in that hospitality is often perceived in the UK as not being an industry that offers substantial career progression. Here, we have a TV show that clearly demonstrates this not to be the case. Take Orlagh, for example, the aforementioned pizza waitress and a strong early contender to take the prize, who speaks in the opening episode of her determination to win the competition so as to further her career. At its best, Fred’s Last Resort ​shows that hospitality can be an exciting and viable long-term career path - a message that needs to be amplified if the sector is ever to properly recover from the staff shortages still plaguing many of its businesses.

But can a TV show like this really convince more people to take up a career in hospitality?
It certainly can’t hurt. While Fred’s Last Resort ​does demonstrate the stresses and pressure that can come from a busy shift (anyone with front-of-house experience is likely to shudder as they watch the contestants run a hectic lunch service in the opening episode), it also neatly exemplifies the sense of reward and achievement that a career in hospitality can offer. And presenting it through the spectacle of a reality TV show is a masterstroke. As the success of the Hospitality Rising’s Rise Fast, Work Young campaign​, which promotes careers in hospitality through TikTok videos, demonstrates, the industry has to harness new ways of speaking to people; particularly teenagers and those in early stages of planning their career.

Sounds good. When can I catch Fred’s Last Resort?
The first two episodes are currently available on All4​, with all subsequent episodes airing on E4 at 9pm every week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Related topics Trends & Reports Casual Dining

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