Tomi arrived from Hungary about three years ago. The company he had been working for was a very well-known delicatessen in Budapest, so he already had a good food background and knowledge of cheese. When he was offered a job in London, he jumped at the chance, which is typical of the Tomi I have gotten to know—full of a sense of adventure.
All of a sudden he found himself in London with a new job and at the time, he didn’t speak much English. But the great thing was, he threw himself at the challenge of working for a new company and learning the language.
Because of the language barrier, we were mainly work colleagues at first—it was all about the job— but we soon became friends. Tomi is a very positive, outgoing person with a lot of energy.
Knowing Tomi, if we were going to have an after-work drink he would probably go to Utobeer and pick up a few bottles for us to share back here at the stall. If we do go to a pub it is normally The Globe Tavern, so it is good that it has opened again after the renovations.
Tomi is definitely more emotional than me—sometimes he’s on a real high and coming to work is like going to a party, and other times he is more relaxed. Either way you will always know what Tomi thinks about a situation, which is one of the things I like most about him. He is very direct in what he has to say and what he thinks, and that brings a real energy to the stall.
The person you see is the person you get. He likes his fashion, so is always coming to the stall with a different look, but whether we are at the stall or in the pub, he is who he is.
If I was to pick a cheese for him it would definitely be one of the milder cheeses, which is quite ironic given he has such a bubbly, big personality, but he is not the biggest fan of the really intense cheeses that we sell.
I think the worst thing about working with Tomi is the flip-side of the best thing about working with him, in that you never quite know which Tomi is going to turn up for work.
He’s always professional, on time and does his job well, but on one day he is the life and soul of the party—lots of energy, very of bubbly, lots of jokes with the staff—and another day he’s more focused and more intent on work. This is fine because this light and shade makes him an interesting person: working with him is a constant surprise. One thing is sure with Tomi—things are not dull very often.
I will say one of the best things about working with Marcello is that he has found a really good balance between being a friend and being the boss. This was very important when I first started, because I didn’t know anybody in London, I didn’t know the city and everything was very new.
Even though he was the boss, I could talk to him about other things—though that could be a bit tricky as I could speak very little English. He was really good at helping me to settle in to both the job, and to London.
Marcello has been a really good mentor to me since I have been here. He knows a great deal about the cheese, of course, but also the world in general. When I come in in the mornings he’s always talking about the news, sport—all kinds of things apart from the cheese, which makes things more interesting for me.
We try to separate work from our lives outside the stall. We joke that we never talk about cheese with our girlfriends and don’t even have cheese in our fridges at home, but we never actually manage this. I do not think it’s possible if you love what you are doing.
We both love working at Jumi Cheese, so of course the conversation will come around to cheese sometimes, but Marcello does tries to make sure it is not the all the time. I have to admit that occasionally the odd text message will pass between us when we are off duty about something to do with cheese.
Marcello is a little bit different from when he is working to when he is off duty. Not a lot, because you have to put yourself into your work so you cannot have a completely different personality, but when he is at work he is a bit more focused, a bit more intent on what is happening and what has to happen next. He is always thinking about the next thing to do—how is the stock? What’s happening with the cheese?—that type of thing.
When he is off duty he is definitely more relaxed. But I think he is always more reserved than me; I am a bit of a party boy and while Marcello likes a good time, maybe he is not as crazy as me. He’s definitely more mature, I would say that I am still probably a bit of a big kid and so having Marcello around while I have been getting to know this city has definitely been a very good thing.