Frederic Billet is director of food and beverage (F&B), Renaissance Chancery Court hotel, London

23 March 2006
Frederic Billet is director of food and beverage (F&B), Renaissance Chancery Court hotel, London

Frederic Billet is director of food and beverage (F&B) at London's five-star Renaissance Chancery Court hotel, part of hotel giant Marriott.

His role demands the management of 134 members of staff of as many nationalities as you could probably name, working in concert to provide the high levels of customer care the five-star property's guests expect.

His department oversees the hotel's extensive banqueting - which alone brings in about £1m of turnover a year - as well as room service, the staff canteen, the lounge, bar and Pearl restaurant.

His route to the role certainly hasn't been orthodox. As a
16-year-old, Billet studied catering in his native France before a stint as a commis chef in two-Michelin-starred restaurant La Palme d'Or in the Martinez hotel, Cannes.

Realising that he would simply never be the three-starred Michelin chef he'd hoped to be, Billet had a long, hard think about where he wanted to go, and having spoken to colleagues and friends in F&B, realised this would be his professional future.

On the way he has worked as chef de rang, sommelier, back-of-house manager, assistant chief steward, and cost controller, experience he believes helps him in his current role. "The path I've taken to get here has helped, as I had previous experience of the financial, service, health and safety and food sides of hotel operations," he says.

Perhaps his most impressive feat to date was joining the Royal Garden hotel in Kensington, London, in 1996 as head waiter at its Tenth restaurant and leaving as restaurant and bar manager in 2004, having increased his department's profits by 6% and taking on responsibility for the purchase of £200,000 worth of beverages at the hotel.

Billet likes to be hands-on, and says working for a group such as Marriott has the attraction of resources such as a customer satisfaction survey, which he describes as a great tool that allows him as a manager to monitor his teams' performance.

Regardless of the luxury surroundings and central London location in Holborn, contact with guests is the best part of the role, according to Billet. "I really enjoy having contact with people, but when I started I was very shy and found it hard to talk, which is why I chose to start my career in the kitchen," he says.

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