16th Mar 2013 10:03am | By Daisy Carrington
Imagine if your day-to-day involved schmoozing with celebrities and sampling Michelin-starred food on a regular basis. For those in the high-end hospitality industry, such perks are part and parcel of the job.
“There is never a day that I walk away and think, ‘Well, that was uneventful,’” says Sid Clark, the general manager at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze in Mayfair.
As one might expect from a restaurant helmed by a celebrity chef, London’s rich and famous often flock to Maze for sustenance (the Beckhams have been known to stop in for a nibble, as have the likes of Desperate Housewives’ Eva Longoria).
Jonathan Krauss, the assistant manager at food, drink and entertainment venue sketch’s Martin Creed-designed gastro brasserie, The Gallery, admits that his position occasionally allows him to network among Britain’s power set.“We have a large clientele, which leads to networking,” he explains.
“You can make some great contacts here.” As big-name artists redecorate the restaurant every 18 months, Krauss notes, The Gallery is a good place to talk art and feel creative: “We have established painters that come in, as well as young people with funky new ideas. It’s a wonderful place to discuss how the art world is moving forward.”
While items such as foie gras and truffles rarely make it into the staff meals, restaurant employees are regularly treated to menu tastings, another significant perk of the job.“[Tastings] are important,” Clark notes.
“It helps the staff to speak about each dish with knowledge and gives us a perspective on the guest experience.”
As clients are paying for seamless quality, presentation is key for everyone working in a high-end restaurant, from the waiters to the person checking the designer coats.
“It’s important to always look neat and not wear too much make-up,” says Lina Stalaucinskaite, 23, a receptionist at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Covent Garden.
Attention to detail and a winning personality also work wonders for moving up the ladder quickly.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of restaurant it is, a great attitude towards work is the most important thing,” Clark says.
“All the rest you can teach, but attitude is part of someone’s character. That’s the major spark we look for in trial shifts.”Krauss, like many managers, started out as a waiter.
He explains that promotions at swanky restaurants come quickly to those that work for it.“This industry is wonderful for people who are ambitious and motivated,” he says.
“It only took me four years to work my way up to management.” As tips are only bestowed on service that excels, there is as much a financial imperative as a professional one for turning on the charm.
“This is the one business where tipping is practically an obligation,” Krauss notes.