Name: Mario Barends
Job title: Director, all-round fixer and problem solver
Company: Dorset Pastry
What was your first job? Trolley boy when I was 15 for Waitrose. Still one of the jobs I have the fondest memories of. The pay was good and they were a great company to work for.
What’s been your worst job interview? It was for a position as a recruitment consultant, a complete change from my current role at the time (casino manager). I finished a 10-hour night shift and then had to drive three hours to the interview. It had been snowing, and when I got out of my car I slipped on ice and fell face-first into muddy slush. I looked a right state, and to make matters worse, the offices for the building were pure glass frontage, so everyone saw me fall.
Things only got worse after that – I was so tired, nervous and hopped up on caffeine to keep me awake that I couldn’t put a coherent sentence together. Needless to say I did not get the position. Though there is a happy ending – I begged for a second chance, managed to get a second interview and was offered a position in a role that taught me many new skills. So if at first you don’t succeed, try again.
What was the first music single you bought? Back to Life by Soul II Soul, was a great song then and still is now.
How do you describe your job to your friends? Constant, exhausting and, no, I don’t make sausage rolls – just the best goddamn pastry.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? Watching a pallet leave site to a new customer. It’s a great feeling knowing they put their trust in us, but also that there is some vindication to the years of blood, sweat and tears it took us to get here.
What is the least rewarding part? Running a small business is constant, so not having enough time to switch off.
What is your motto in life? For my work life: just say yes and figure out how to do it later. For my personal life: remember to breathe, because if you don’t breathe then it’s all over.
If you were allowed one dream perk, what would it be? It would be a four-week, all-expenses-paid holiday to exotic destinations every year. A chance to see this beautiful planet of ours and unwind.
Do you have any phobias? I have a fear of heights for other people. So I’m good with heights personally, but if other people are high up or close to the edge, I have an irrational fear they will fall.
If you could change one thing in grocery, what would it be? The education and knowledge of the general public that good quality, ethically produced foods cost more.
What luxury would you have on a desert island? It would have to be toilet paper. It would have multiple applications – kindling for fire, insulation and more.
What animal most reflects your personality? A mongoose because I can be slightly shy, but loyal and can be fearless when needed.
What’s your favourite film and why? The Goonies. It’s a bit cheesy but it reminds me of being a kid, when things were so much simpler, and that anything is possible.
What has been the most embarrassing moment in your life? When I sent what I thought was a private message, that was quite explicit, to a group chat that included my grandparents. Absolutely mortified when I realised, and am still reminded of it occasionally by friends and family so the embarrassment continues.
Which celebrity would you most like to work with and why? Ryan Reynolds, after seeing his involvement in Wrexham FC and how genuine and funny he seems. Personally, I think any collaboration with him would be amazing (and super successful).
What would your death row meal be? I’d order one of everything on the menu from Paul Ainsworth at No 6. I might not eat it all but I’d give it a good go.