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The Caterer

How I got here

24 August 2004
How I got here

Setien came to the UK from Spain to advance his career but also to improve his command of English. One has to wonder if managing a team of mainly female bar staff at Bonds Restaurant & Bar was quite what he had in mind on the communications front.

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"It's certainly difficult managing people and their problems when you're doing so in a language that isn't your mother tongue," says Setien. "I'd have to say working here has really helped me." Back in Madrid, he worked as a waiter and then barman at several bars and restaurants, having begun making cocktails as a paying hobby. The 25-year-old joined Bonds, in the Threadneedles hotel in the City of London's Square Mile, in May 2002, and has sole responsibility for the day-to-day running of the bar, staff management, cashing-up and inventory. His experience working as a beverage manager in Spain (from November 2000 to 2002 at I De Iroko Restaurante) means that the inventory side of the business doesn't faze him. However, Setien concedes that his managerial duties keep him from spending as much time behind the bar as he'd like. When the paperwork isn't threatening to smother him, Setien is out and about, typically two or three times a week, expanding his knowledge of the drinks industry and keeping up with the latest developments and trends in the world of cocktails. Often, this means attending tastings held by drinks suppliers or visiting trade shows such as the recent Bar Show at London's Olympia. Setien admits he can be a perfectionist, and to get his team making cocktails in a consistent style he holds voluntary, unpaid training sessions on Saturday in the daytime. Although the team are there to learn and refine their skills, he makes sure training sessions are relaxed, saying: "We make sure people try a few drinks and keep things fun." One of the most useful experiences Setien has had came in 2002, when he took an intensive month-long bartending course at the Straight Up Bartending School in London's Waterloo. Training his memory, Setien learnt how to mix about 120 different cocktails. He says: "I find mixology really interesting, and knowing the weight of individual cocktails and how they react with each other is very interesting." And his tip for a successful time behind the bar? "Never be cocky," he says. "There'll always be a customer who knows more than you do." Career highlights November 2000 to 2002 Beverage manager at I De Iroko Restaurante 2002 Straight Up Bartending School May 2002 Head barman at Bonds Restaurant & Bar
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