Sponsored by Britvic
As food and beverage manager of the Seren Collection, Alice Bussi oversees Coast restaurant in Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire; Beach House restaurant in Oxwich Bay, Swansea; and the food and beverage outlets at the Grove of Narberth hotel in Pembrokeshire, including the 34-cover, three-AA-rosette Fernery restaurant and the more informal 40-cover Artisan Rooms.
Bussi has shown herself to be an innovative and creative thinker. She was instrumental in presenting the arguments to owners Zoe and Neil Kedward to make the strategic decision to open the Artisan Rooms. Her rationale was based on encouraging guests to dine on more occasions, attracting more local diners, and reducing covers in the Fernery. As a result, the hotel has seen more guests eating with them on consecutive evenings, and local diners have increased. Overall F&B revenues are up 11% in the rolling calendar year.
Other initiatives include a Sunday roast option through the quieter autumn and winter months to attract more local guests to Coast, autumn and winter voucher deals for the low season, and selling local artwork at Beach House. Commission from the latter has added £3,000 to the bottom line this year.
The Seren Collection also operates the more informal Kiosk café beneath Coast restaurant to ensure dog walkers and locals after a coffee are also catered for. Bussi came up with the idea of opening the café all year to ensure there is a business case for two full-time managers/supervisors, the aim being to raise service standards and build stronger relationships with local customers all year round. Under her leadership the café has also added a ‘doggy corner’ selling dog treats and gifts. The kiosk has increased turnover by 21.5% over 12 months.
Just three months after being promoted to group food and beverage manager last year, Bussi had to manage the loss of head chef Will Holland along with several members of staff from the restaurant. She remained upbeat throughout, identified it as an opportunity to improve the establishment, and with the help of HR put a new team in place, spending a considerable amount of time with them on the ground. The Coast team is now delivering high food and service levels, showing that change can be good with the right leadership.
Bussi provides holiday cover when possible to work closely beside her teams on the ground and understand the strengths and weaknesses of all the team, down to the most junior level. And if the kitchen brigade is short or struggling with a major event, she will grab an apron without hesitation and help the kitchen with washing dishes or plating canapés. The judges agreed that her willingness to step in sets a great example to everybody in the organisation.
What the judges said
“Alice sounds like a superstar, she has faced many challenges in the business and overcome them brilliantly. She is obviously a very well-loved member of the team and great with the guests as well.”
Julia Sibley, chief executive, Savoy Educational Trust
“Alice clearly cares a huge amount about her team and loves what she does. The nomination was so genuine with amazing results and triumphs in some challenging situations.”
Sarah Williams, food and beverage manager, Ham Yard Hotel, London
Alice Bussi Seren Collection, Pembrokeshire and Swansea
Konstantinos Georgis Hilton London Heathrow
Niels Kristensen The Ned, London
2017 Arjeta Arapi The Montague on the Gardens, London
2016 Simon Seis Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London
2015 Sarah Williams Ham Yard Hotel, London
2014 Axelle Besson Lancaster London
2013 Peter Bradley The Montague on the Gardens, London
2012 Moses Solomon Flemings, London
2011 Amit Jaitly Hilton Birmingham Metropole
2010 James Clarke Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott hotel, London
2009 Erick Kervaon South Lodge, Horsham, Sussex
2008 Richard Ellison Old Course Hotel, St Andrews
2007 Paul Boyce, Malmaison and Hotel du Vin