How I got here

16 March 2005 by
How I got here

Belfast-born Scott Malaugh, 24, joined Belfast's funkiest new hotel in November 2004, ahead of its official December opening. The 64-bedroom boutique hotel was originally two seed warehouses built for merchants in the 19th century, but has been transformed into a boutique hotel.

Malaugh lived in both the USA and Belfast while growing up, and it was while working as an assistant bar manager at his father's Murphy's Law Pub in Miami in 2000 that he discovered a natural ability to get on with customers. He took a marketing and advertising degree at the University of Iowa from September 2001 to April 2002, but after the first year decided it wasn't for him and returned to Belfast. In December 2002 he became duty manager at Euphoria Bowling, but it was a move to Ink at fine-dining restaurant the Four Winds in 2003 as head waiter that exposed him to the hitherto unknown world of wine. "The restaurant had a very different clientele from what I was used to and, with chef's approval, I started to read up on wine," he says. A move to Benedicts Restaurant in August 2004 proved to be a step backward for the aspiring sommelier because wine was not a notable part of its offering. But all was not lost, and Malaugh heard Malmaison was coming to town. Having heard nothing from the company after applying at a job fair, he took direct action and delivered his CV to the hotel. It worked. Within two days he had an interview and a job soon followed. Working in a team of eight at the hotel, he covers the bar and 56-seat brasserie, working mostly nights, five times a week. He spends one day a week at the Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education, where he is working towards a hospitality management degree. However, Malaugh is hesitant to recommend this type of study as the best way of getting ahead. "I think you learn most through hands-on experience," he says. "My degree is very much about putting what I know from work down on paper, which isn't teaching me much." That's not to say Malmaison isn't helping Malaugh expand his knowledge, with training delivered by the group's appropriately named wine and spirits director, Johnny Walker. "Wine has to be one of the most interesting subjects I've studied," Malaugh says. "The biggest challenge of my job is understanding the classifications and rules governing French wine. But the skills I'm acquiring will definitely help my career. "My advice is be polite, be passionate in what you do and, of course, enjoy yourself." Career highlights2000 Assistant bar manager, Murphy's Law Pub 2003 Head waiter, the Four Winds (Ink) 2004 Sommelier, Malmaison Belfast
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