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Violeta Dakovic, Chef de brigade, The Dorchester hotel, Mayfair

29 September 2005

Violeta Dakovic, 30
What: Chef de brigade
Where: The Dorchester hotel, Mayfair
Salary range: From £19,000 for reception supervisors up to £30,000-plus for managers

Tell us about your job? I supervise reception and front of house, assisting the front desk manager in meeting, greeting and allocating rooms.
The Dorchester is trying to merge several front-of-house departments, so we have more empowerment and responsibility. I am being trained in how to do appraisals and I also do some training. I have to be versatile.

What's special about the Dorchester? We get a lot of high-profile clientele at this hotel - heads of state, celebrities and so on - with their special needs. They can sometimes be difficult, so you are trained in how to handle them. It's important to learn who the regular guests are and to remember their preferences.

How did you qualify for the job? I have been here for two years, but I trained for several years before that. I started out with two years at the Institut Hôtelier César-Ritz in Le Bouveret, Switzerland, where I gained a Swiss hotel management diploma, followed by two years at the five-star Turnberry Isle Resort & Club in Miami, training in the rooms division and sales management. Then I went to Oxford Brookes University, where I studied for a BSc in hotel and restaurant management. Before all that I was living in my home country of Serbia and Montenegro.

How does London compare with elsewhere? There are great opportunities for work and improving your career in London. Both the USA and UK offer good experience, but London has the highest standards. Having worked here I feel confident I could work anywhere in the world.

But surely it's a stressful city to live in? No. I live in Ealing, west London, so it is about a half-hour Tube journey to Mayfair. The higher cost of living isn't a problem because the salaries in London are adjusted. And although hotel hours are long, the afternoon shift finishes at 3.30pm, so I get plenty of opportunity to try out all the restaurants, shops, bars - and see London.

Didn't the recent terrorist bombs make you want to leave? Not at all. Nowhere is safe nowadays, but London always stays as it is. We just have to show terrorists that we are not fearful.

Where next? My aim is to progress further in front of house, and the Dorchester offers the best training in London. I can't imagine working in a three- or four-star hotel now, as I am used to working to higher standards.

The Dorchester

  • World-famous five-star hotel

  • 248 bedrooms

  • Bars and restaurants include China Tang and the Grill Room

  • Contact: 020 7499 5111

  • www.dorchesterhotel.com

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