Sir Garry Hawkes CBE releases new book

By Lorraine, Friday 19 January 2024

I recently had the pleasure of attending the book launch of legendary hospitality icon, Sir Garry Hawkes CBE 'Meals, Deals and Quangos' which was a fabulous event. Click on the title above to read more.

The Royal Opera House was the backdrop to the launch of Sir Garry Hawkes book “Meals, Deals and Quangos” which sets out the life and times of Sir Garry and his illustrious career.

Sir Garry Hawkes, renowned as one of the most influential figures in the Hospitality Industry has unveiled his much-anticipated book “Meals, Deals and Quangos”. 

A pivotal figure in contract catering for over four decades, Sir Garry’s book presents a compelling narrative taking the reader through his unparalleled journey through the highs and lows of building successful businesses during the second half of the last century and through turbulent economic times. 

His story is not just a reflection of the past; it’s an indispensable guide for contemporary leaders navigating today’s challenges.  His experiences and insights into effective leadership and resilience in the face of adversity and his strategies for success, are as pertinent now as they were two decades ago.

Knighted in 2009 for his invaluable contributions to Education, (having founded The Edge Foundation - an independent, politically impartial foundation inspiring the education system to give all young people the knowledge, skills and behaviour to flourish), Sir Garry’s book sheds light on the complexities of politics, structural barriers, and the education system itself.

“Meals, Deals and Quangos has been an emotional journey for me” said Sir Garry who has dedicated the book to his late wife, Peggy, who was his supporting partner for 56 years. 

“I wanted it to not just tell my story as a man who grew up in post-war Yorkshire but to delve deep in the fabric of leadership, offering invaluable lessons for both established leaders and emerging talent.

“My journey was marked by challenges, victories and the constant pursuit of excellence and I hope this book serves as a roadmap for individuals striving for success in any industry”.

Sir Garry’s career includes a meteoric rise within contract catering and he is most widely known for his career with Gardner Merchant – a highly successful business within the Forte Empire, until he navigated its sale to Sodexo SA in 1995, by which point, he was employing some 57,000 people.

Bob Cotton OBE, former CEO of UK Hospitality (then the British Hospitality Association) and advisor to Tony Blair’s government, conducted an insightful interview with Sir Garry at the Launch event, which was attended by many successful names within the contract catering industry.

Commenting on the book’s significance, Cotton states:

“Sir Garry’s story is a treasure-trove of wisdom for leaders of all stripes.  His experience encapsulates the essence of effective leadership and is a fascinating insight into the man himself.

“Meals, Deals and Quangos” is a compelling narrative interwoven with anecdotes from great figures such as Sir Rocco Forte and offers a unique perspective on careers across what is now seen as a highly respected career path within the Hospitality Industry. 

“This is a marker in history - Sir Garry is one of the most highly regarded individuals within the contract catering industry – paving the way for the sector as it has evolved today”.

Cotton asked Sir Garry about his highs and lows.  Sir Garry cited the Piper Alfa disaster as the lowest point in his career – the disaster led to the death of 29 of his team who were on board the oil rig at that time. 

He says: “I will never get over that and reflect on the loss suffered by their families each and every day.  It was a hard lesson to live through”.

A ‘must-read’ for anyone entering the contract catering sector as a career – or those looking for inspirational leadership guidance - “Meals, Deals and Quangos” (£25) can be bought through Amazon Meals, Deals & Quangos - The Life of Sir Garry Hawkes CBE: Sir Garry Hawkes CBE: 9781399951807: Books