Hello Ian! As our Customer Experience Manager, we know that quite a few people have already chatted to you on the phone. Well, now it’s time for everyone to get to know you a little bit better!
Tell us about yourself and your family. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the Blue Mountains area of Sydney. My mother’s British and absolutely loves hosting people, so we were pretty well known for having the greatest dinner parties! As an adult, I’ve lived overseas in New Zealand, London and Toronto, Canada. I’ve travelled a fair amount, especially through Europe, so I’ve tried out a lot of different cuisines.
What did you do before you worked here?
I was the country manager of a travel company, running small group tours around Australia and New Zealand.
A lot of customers will know you already and be fascinated by your job. Give us an idea of a day in the life of a CX (Customer Experience) Manager.
My role is to learn from our customers and help make positive change. I answer phone questions and online queries and field any complaints (the worst part of any day!). Then I report back to the appropriate departments to, hopefully, improve our processes.
So, when a customer calls (and this happened recently) to say that they’re desperately craving our molten chocolate puddings or turmeric green chilli chicken thighs, I pass that information on to Sarah, our Menu Director. With those two particular dishes, she was able to make a special small batch and incorporate them into the monthly menu, earlier than planned. We always aim to please!
What’s the best bit of your job?
Hearing the stories of customers who have found Dinner Ladies to be a genuine help in their lives, whether it was getting them through a tough time, a busy time or a time of celebration.
Any funny work stories?
I do get a laugh when I answer the phone. People’s first reaction is often: ‘You don’t sound like a Dinner Lady!’ I like to think of myself as one of the Dinner Lads.
Are you a good cook? Do you have a ‘signature dish’?
I do like to think of myself as a good cook. I took countless Italian cooking classes in my travelling days and I love to cook up a good, really fresh pasta sauce.
Any notable kitchen disasters?
When I was about 14 I cut home-made potato chips and tried to shallow-fry them. I ended up overheating the oil and it exploded into flames and turned the whole kitchen black… Mum was not impressed.
As a single dad, tell us how you manage your work/life balance. How do you fit everything into your day?
Being a single parent makes for an exceptionally busy timetable. I leave the Dinner Ladies kitchen in Matraville around 5.30pm, collect my four-year-old son from day care, get home by 6 and then have the pressure of getting something he likes (and that’s good for him!) on the table by 6.30, so I can get him to bed by 7pm. When there’s a Dinner Ladies meal in the freezer I know I can achieve all that. His favourite is definitely baked gnocchi and meatballs with tomatoes and bocconcini.
This week we’re focusing on our new range of complete meals for one. As a well-known ready-meal connoisseur in the DL office we thought you’d be a great taste-tester to try these out! Which is your favourite?
I loved them all, but my favourite is the Texan beef with corn, sweet potato and Jalapeno lime crema.
I’ve tried a lot of other quick dinner companies in my time, and I do really love our new range. The flavours are amazing because the food’s cooked from scratch, it isn’t processed and the portions are actually generous for one person. I’m definitely full and don’t end up eating two meals (I hate to admit, but I’ve done that in the past with some other ranges!).
They’re also noticeably the first microwave meals I’ve tried that don’t have an odd texture when they’re heated. The noodles stay perfect and the meat doesn’t dry out. The quality is excellent. Of course!
Do you think they’ll fit into your kitchen routine?
When I don’t have my son with me, although I think of myself as a decent cook, the last thing I want to do is spend time cooking and having dinner late by myself. This new range of complete meals gives me time for myself – to exercise or even go out and be social.
Also, it’s really hard to cook economically for one person. You can end up with a lot of food waste, which I really don’t like, so having meals that are a dedicated single portion helps minimise my waste.
All the trays are pulp trays too – I hate the idea of throwing away anything that can’t break down, so when I go to the supermarket recycling and redcycling bins, I always take the soft plastics that are inevitable with food wrappings.
What would be your dream job if you weren’t a Dinner Lady?
I’m an avid fan of learning and sharing different cultures. The more we learn about other people around the world, the more we can work together to solve some of the larger problems around us. Food is a really great way to do this and get people excited about what others are bringing to the table (pun intended).