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Following my dream

April 18, 2013

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My birth name is Mark Allman. Following my parent’s divorce, my mother’s remarriage and my sending away to prep school I assumed the name Mark Butcher, the surname of my step father. At secondary school, I was nicknamed Baz Butcher ( after a West Indian cricketer) and Baz became my most used first name for many years.  Strangely both Basil Butcher and Mark Butcher were of course international cricketers and much as I have always loved and still love the game ( highlight of my career = bowling David Gower out in a house match at school) I cannot claim any great playing ability.  I’m still known mostly as Baz, though some people will call me Mark, and the very latest name given to me is  Zoil.

After leaving school, my gap year was spent working in restaurants and cafes were I discovered a real interest in cooking and serving great food as well as the thrill of working in such a fast changing, pressurised and fun environment.  I went to University in the other place where I spent more time eating and working in restaurants at the expense of lectures and tutorials.  The words of my Director of Studies at the time, David Cannadine, still ring in my ears today:  “In this essay, you have enough information to fill the top of a pin head”.

At the end of my first year of not studying and yearning to go and work in the hospitality and catering business, I went home and asked my parents if I could leave University and go to study Hotel and Catering Management in Lausanne, Switzerland.  This idea was not well received and I was firmly told to return to the other place and resume my history degree.  A third followed and then a 30 + year career in advertising and public relations as a strategist in an international, independent and my own agency called Mind the Gap. It was a career that I enjoyed (not least for the lunches and dinners across the world) and which I look back on with very great fondness, but is was never my passion.

And that was always to have my own restaurant or cafe…………….

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