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Corporate strategy

Private Chef Company Talk Eat Laugh says Expansion Plans on Track, No Exchange Rate Hit from Brexit Vote

Brexit and exchange rates

Maintaining separate Euro and Pound bank accounts has seen Talk Eat Laugh avoid any major foreign exchange complications over recent months. 

Talk Eat Laugh are a company of private chefs and performance chefs who cook for high net worth individuals and ultra-high net worth clients in the UK and Europe.

Assuring discretion, the company regularly works with elite athletes and celebrities catering to their every need in the industries of hospitality, cuisine, nutrition and sport.

The Head Chef and owner is Rachel Muse, a former mathematician. But it seems maths didn’t quite hold the same appeal for her once her studies had finished.

She says, “When it came time to start a career, none of the doors that a degree in Mathematics opened appealed to me. I didn't like the idea of teaching, being an accountant or actuary. I had to come up with something and the thing I came up with was being a Chef.

“I trained as a chef and then continued training to become a pastry chef. A mathematics degree is easy, it involves sitting around thinking and occasionally showing up at a lecture or an exam. Compare that to two year’s day release of unremitting onslaught to become a Pastry Chef. Think about the Great British Bake Off final... we had to be that good by the end of our first term in our first year. The stress and the knowledge ramped up from there. Although it was extremely tough this set me up for a long and happy life in the kitchen.”

As a company of private chefs, Talk Eat Laugh are available to work anywhere, and thrive during their friendly pop-up restaurants which occur around the UK.

European Exposure

However, with ten percent of their business taking place in Europe, the business can easily travel within easy reach of their clientele, no matter where they are.

Part of their reputation relies on the discretion of the Talk Eat Laugh workforce.

Rachel comments:

“I can't say who I've worked for. That's private, a private chef is about being private. Famous people in their own homes want you to run a calm and organised kitchen and to put delicious food in front of them and their guests. That's it. And after twenty years of doing it, that's all I can say.

“We do the Pop Up Restaurants so we have a way that 'anyone' can have the experience of being cooked for by a private chef. If you come along to a Pop Up its exactly the same as if you had been invited to the home of a famous person I was cooking for. You get exactly the same treatment. Plus, for us chefs it's fun to sit down with everyone at the table, we certainly don't do that when we are cooking for one of our HNW (High Net Worth) clients.”

No Impact from Exchange Rate Fluctuations

Having defined rules has been essential for Rachel, who after 20 years in the business has a varied insight when it comes to running the company, including how to manage requests to cook for guests overseas, which account for around 10% of the business.

“We haven’t been effected by currency fluctuations as we have separate income and expenditure in the eurozone” she says. “We keep the euro as euro and the sterling as sterling. We don't do 'exchanges' in currencies. This allows us to  still work on pre-referendum prices.”

It also means that the current slow down in the growth of some UK businesses luckily seems to have bypassed Talk Eat Laugh.

Rachel says, “Month on month this year is currently the same as last year. However, we are growing the UK arm and aim to grow the European arm of the business. I'm determined to make a success of Brexit and can see the opportunity to expand into Europe. In fact I'm currently in talks with a French start up about combining our offering with theirs and our plans to expand have been further energised.”

We have reported in our post-referendum series on British small business that there have certainly been some winners and losers when it comes to handling FX fluctuations.

Happy With Referendum Result, Believes Close Partnership with Europe will Continue

Personally, Rachel was very happy with the referendum result, but with a business that crosses the channel into Europe, isn’t she concerned about how restricting free movement of people could effect her employees?

“No I’m not. We work with a number of people who hold dual nationality which is very helpful. I see plenty of further complications arising during the Brexit process but I believe the desire to trade with each other will enable companies and countries to find solutions. And if I had to give advice to Theresa May and her new Government I would say always lead by example. I don’t believe we will be the last to leave the EU,” says Rachel.

With a business model that crosses borders, after all, food is love, does Rachel worry that her open stance on Brexit will effect her work with her European clients?

She answers, “No because I am not anti-Europe, not anti-trade, not anti-free movement of labour nor capital. I personally am Anti the current hugely bureaucratic, anti-democratic (Luxembourg treaty), highly wasteful 'system' of EU 'governance'. Let's celebrate our differences and work together in a way that benefits everyone rather than seeking to limit and homogenise us all.”