The Academy of Food and Wine Service (AFWS) is determined that the increase in profile of front of house created by Michel Roux's Service, the eight-part TV series which has just come to an end on BBC2, will not go to waste.
With the cameras packed away and the trainees taking on jobs within the industry, the AFWS has announced it is creating a single professional qualification roadmap for front of house that begins at entry level and can be followed through to a foundation degree in food and beverage management.
Sophie Roberts-Brown, executive director of the AFWS, said that since the conclusion of the TV series last week she has experienced her busiest time at the academy since joining eight years ago. Hits on the website have reached over 10,500, membership enquiries are on the up and Twitter followers have now reached more than 800.
"We have been receiving inquiries from youngsters and parents who have discovered for the first time just how much a job front-of-house involves and want to find out more about how to get into the industry," she said. "At the same time we have been contacted by employers offering students work placements.
"For years we have been looking at ways to increase the awareness of the service side of the industry and through this programme we have achieved this. It is now important that the whole industry gets behind this momentum by offering opportunities for young people to come into the industry, particularly through partnerships with colleges.
"Think about offering yourself as a mentor to a student or invite young people into your place of work to mentor a member of staff."
The success of Michel Roux's Service, according to Roberts-Brown, was due to the positive encouragement from Michel Roux himself and Fred Sirieix, general manager of Galvin at Windows, in getting the trainees to work together as a team, as well as the access they were granted to a wide range of industry experts.
Roux told Caterer that he was overwhelmed by the hundreds of applicants, including many graduates, he has received from young people inspired by the programme to join the industry.
"While many chefs think that restaurants are food led, the programme showed just how vital the service side of the business is to its success," he said.
"I've received many touching letters, none more so than from a mother who was insisting that her son, who wanted to be a waiter, should go to university. She told me that as a result of the programme she had seen the light.
"The industry should now grasp this opportunity and every business - whether it is a café, restaurant or industrial unit - should be offering youngsters the chance to develop a career for themselves. It is what we have been doing with chefs for years now and kitchens are now full of enthusiastic young British chefs. There is no reason why we cannot do the same with front-of-house."
Kit Chapman, managing director of the Castle hotel in Taunton, said Michel Roux's Service showed the industry the importance of training its front-of-house staff.
"We need more programmes and I urge the BBC to re-commission this series," he said.
how to recruit and retain waiting staff
â- Invite students to shadow members of staff
â- Always offer training to staff - even if temporary - to show that front-of-house offers career progression and opportunities
â- Introduce front-of-house apprenticeship to provide staff with a valuable qualification
â- Businesses should network to offer a range of work placements to allow experience of the wide variety of establishments
â- Colleges should capitalise on the current momentum by advertising service courses now for the September intake
michel roux's service where are they now?
Three trainees were awarded six-month work scholarships:
Danielle Meenagh Hotel du Vin, Winchester
Ashley Flay Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill, London
James Marvin Hilton Park Lane, London
Three of the other trainees are pursuing careers in the industry:
Brooke Arnold Galvin at Windows
Tom Burrows management trainee course, Zizzi's
Niki Bedson bar service