Spotlight on Donna Frost, Front of House Shift Leader, Catering and Events - Fitzwilliam College - March 2019
Donna Frost joined the Catering & Conference Department at Fitzwilliam College in 2002 as a casual member of staff. Over the years, Donna’s outgoing personality and willingness to work flexibly within a busy department enabled her to progress from plate wash to her current position as a Front of House Shift Leader.
How did you come to work at Fitzwilliam College?
I left my full-time job to have my son but still wanted to work part-time. As my mum and auntie worked for Bowes Cuisine, the proprietor Dorothy Bowes offered me a job and this was where my catering career started. When Dorothy sold her catering business, she went to work at Fitzwilliam College. As they needed professionally trained waiting staff, many of her staff joined her at the College and that is how I came to be at Fitzwilliam.
Describe a typical week as a Front of House Shift Leader at Fitzwilliam College.
There are so many aspects to my job as a Front of House Shift Leader, actually too numerous to mention! However, the most important duty is planning the staff rota for each week. I start to prepare the rota at the weekend, which is done on a split-shift basis. This can be quite a challenge, especially during the busy summer vacation periods.
My other main responsibility is supervising and assisting my team with the day-to-day catering arrangements for a variety of dinners and special events. This includes setting up dining or reception rooms, laying up of tables and so on – as well as briefing staff and actual waiting service. There are many additional items to consider like guests’ special diets, as well as dealing with any last-minute challenges that arise, such as extra place settings on an already laid up table.
What part of your job do you like doing the best?
I really enjoy doing special dinners, Graduation Day and the conferences and weddings – especially if they are returning alumni whom I have got to know during their time at Fitz. However, the Christmas Parties are the best – everyone is in a festive mood and out to enjoy themselves.
Over the years, you must have met many famous people. Who have been your favourite or most memorable celebrities?
I think Arsène Wenger is perhaps one of the most memorable. He came to Graduation Day and the Catering Team and I had our picture taken with Arsène. Other celebrities have included Gareth Gates, who attended a conference, and I have met Prince Philip several times on royal visits, as well as Princess Anne. Whilst working with Bowes I served the Queen, as well as the late Stephen Hawking, Ruth Madoc, Matthew Kelly, the boxer Dave ‘Boy’ Green and Terry Waite. We put on a special event for Sir John and Dame Norma Major. They were really nice and his wife popped into the kitchen to tell us how pleased she was with everything. I also served Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff in a previous role.
You list holidays abroad with friends as one of your main interests. What is your favourite holiday destination, and why?
One of my best holidays was with my friends in Tenerife. There was lots to eat and drink and we met loads of lovely people – everybody was so friendly, especially the staff and other guests. The nightlife was fantastic and during the day we sat around the pool and had a good laugh and natter, or went shopping down in the main town. We had a fabulous time and made some lovely memories.