Overall ranking: 27 (new entry)
Restaurateur ranking: 7 (new entry)
Celebrity chefs seem to be two a penny, but how often do you come across a celebrity maître d’? That’s the somewhat improbable niche that Fred Sirieix, general manager of Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows on Park Lane, has managed to carve for himself. Having trained at catering college in Souillac in his native France, Sirieix was 20 years old when he moved to the UK to become chef de rang at La Tante Claire in London. There, he came into contact with Pierre Koffmann, the first in a long line of influential mentors, with others including Silvano Giraldin at Le Gavroche, George Perendes at Sartoria, Wendy Hendricks at Bluebird, and not least Chris Galvin himself.
Sirieix is passionate about promoting front of house careers and it was to that end that he launched his Art of Service board game in 2011. He has also been the driving force behind the popular National Waiters’ Day, which last year celebrated its fifth anniversary, but it is his work on Channel 4 TV show First Dates that has brought him to wider public attention and given him a cult following among fans.
What we think
It is over a decade since Sirieix started working at Galvin at Windows, the 28th-floor restaurant atop the London Hilton on Park Lane, and he is as synonymous with that venue as he is with his obsession for great service.
Sirieix is a polymath. In addition to his day job of running a Michelin-starred restaurant he is also a TV personality, published author, boxer, and supposedly even a musician and rapper.
However, a large part of his seemingly boundless energy and drive goes into raising awareness of hospitality careers, particularly those front of house. Explaining why he created National Waiters’ Day to The Caterer last year, he said: “The industry is not helping itself. We need to reach out to the general public and have people think it would be a great career for their child, nephew or grandchild. There are almost 300 catering colleges in the UK and there must be thousands of kids who come out of them every year, but where are they?”
His foray into First Dates, which sees him act as maître d’ for nervous would-be couples in London’s Paternoster Chop House, dispensing advice on l’amour as he goes, could be seen as something of a distraction to that goal, but instead, Sirieix has found a way to leverage his personality to promote his cause. It’s hard to see how his memoir, Secret Service: Lifting the Lid on the Restaurant World, could have been published otherwise, for example.
It also allows him to give considerable weight to campaigns like My Hospitality Life, devised by the principal of the Edge Hotel School, Andrew Boer, which aims to get more young people into hospitality. Sirieix publicly backed the campaign in March, producing a short video in support, amid concerns that Brexit will create a skills gap in the hospitality industry.
It’s for his public profile, combined with his passion for changing hospitality for the better, that gets Sirieix to 27th in our list.
Maître d’ Fred Sirieix backs campaign to get young people into hospitality >>