“I’d like people to realise that service is important,” Diego Masciaga said as he explained staff training lies at the core of his ethos for the three-Michelin-starred Waterside Inn in Bray.
Director and general manager Masciaga, who has been at the Waterside Inn for 30 years, trains his team daily alternating between technical training – such as how to serve a glass of wine or carve a duck – and personal and team skills.
“I help them to understand that they’re not just here to do a job, they’re here to do a very important profession,” he said. “At the end of the day it doesn’t just bring you happiness but also wealth as the guests will always come back to you.”
He also believes that it’s important for senior staff to “be on the floor with the team” in order to properly guide them.
“You don’t need to be there every moment, because if you are then you become a policeman! But the staff have to realise you’re there with them in order to trust and respect you,” he said.
Masciaga enters the restaurant every morning from a different door “not to check on what the staff are doing” but to experience it how a guest would. Usually, the first person he sees is the kitchen porter who is 18 years old and jests about the teenager going out the night before.
“I learn every day from young people. They bring me something new every day. It’s very important to listen to young people, too. A lot of the time, people look at them while they talk, but don’t listen. Sometimes they have good ideas and when I put them in to action I always make it clear that it was their idea. It’s so important to praise them, not to tell them off.”
In the next few years, Masciaga hopes that service is held in higher regard. “I’d like people to realise that service is important. Customer service is not well recognised by many companies but I think good customer service can bring a lot. In many places the service is more important than the cooking!” he said.
Masciaga hopes to one day visit colleges and businesses to speak to young people and motivate them in their professions. “I want to be able to speak to young people because I get pleasure of doing that. I’d give speeches that come from the heart, about my experiences, not one I read off a page.”
For a full interview with Masciaga see next week’s issue of The Caterer.
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