The art of service is reborn

30 November 2012
The art of service is reborn

Former Le Gavroche maître d' and managing director Silvano Giraldin believes front-of-house skills can still make a difference in all areas of hospitality

There was a time when the stars of the restaurant were the brigade out front who ran the service in the dining room and had pride of place in front of the guests.
The great restaurants had a polished service and the dining room required a large brigade of trained staff.

There was a lot more food in the room than today: hors d'oeuvres, cheese, salads and desserts were pushed gently around the room so that sometimes guests didn't need a menu: they could see what they wanted.

Carving and flambée completed a repertoire that made service personal and required much more interaction between waiter and guest.

This type of service does not exist today. It belonged to a different era, to guests who had different expectations and needs. And like anything else, it had got tired. With the arrival of nouvelle cuisine everything changed. A new generation of ambitious chefs, the Roux Brothers included, wanted to make a difference and a noise, and they were heard.

They lit a torch in this country which was seen by a new generation of British chefs who followed in their footsteps, and it is clear that the restaurant revolution in the UK over the past 25 years has been more about the kitchen than the dining room.

A group of like-minded individuals from across the service spectrum, myself included, have got together to teach service to a new generation. We have called our new endeavour the Gold Service Scholarship, and we want to pass on our skills to a new group of younger professionals who can take what we have learnt and reinterpret it for a modern audience.

There is no going back to the old days. That chapter is closed. But the skills of that era are being reborn in a new way, and that is what the scholarship is all about: giving the opportunity to our scholars to study the great art of service and hospitality in a new way.

Great service belongs everywhere, from the garage forecourt to the greasy spoon, from the coffee bar to the banquet and beyond. We want to make our lessons and knowledge available to all who work in that spectrum.

In short, the hospitality profession has become a partnership between kitchen flair and dining room care, with both teams working for the same goal - a happy guest.

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