National Waiters Day: A day in the life of a maître d’ with Paulo de Tarso

By Peter Ruddick & Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: National waiters, Manager, Busboy, Waiting staff

To celebrate the first ever National Waiters Day, BigHospitality decided to discover a little bit more about one of the most important front-of-house restaurant roles - the maître d’. For this exclusive video we spent a morning with Bar Boulud's Paulo de Tarso.

Organised by Fred Sirieix, the legendary general manager of Galvin at Windows, National Waiters Day 2013​ takes place on Sunday 23 June and is a chance for the hospitality industry to celebrate the work of staff members who, according to many experts, can make or break a restaurant.


Paulo de Tarso, maître d’ at Bar Boulud, showed Luke Nicholls what his job involves

The day is also a chance to inspire people to consider jobs in hospitality and in particular to think about a career in front of house which can be a lot more varied than people outside the industry realise.

The role of the maître d’ is one which many members of the public don't fully understand - the best in the business know everything about their diners, from table preferences to dietary requirements; have fabulous attention to detail and seamlessly lead their waiters through a busy service.

Arguably, there is none better in the capital than Paulo de Tarso who helped open Daniel Boulud's Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel in 2010.

BigHospitality's Luke Nicholls spent a morning before service in Knightsbridge with the man himself and discovered there was a long list of tasks which Paulo tackles before the doors are opened to the general public:

  • Carrying out extensive restaurant checks from the position of the tables to the brightness and direction of the lights.
  • Meeting the reservations manager to discuss the day's bookings and need-to-know information such as window table requests, special guests or dietary requirements.
  • Meeting the general manager and executive chef to discuss the day's menu.
  • Briefing staff on service tips, the day's expected diners and testing them on their knowledge of the menu and upcoming events.
Sabrina Klewer, reservations manager at Bar Boulud talks through the day's bookings

If you are currently looking for your next front of house role or you are looking to recruit a fantastic waiter for your restaurant visit BigHospitality jobs.​ There are currently 251 front of house roles being advertised.

Top tips

Of course BigHospitality captured just a snapshot of Paulo's working day, he really comes into his own when greeting and dealing with guests - so what would people find most surprising about his job?

"The knowledge that goes with it," he said. "You really have to know everything that goes on, not only in London and worldwide in politics but knowing what is happening in the stock market and what events are occurring.

"You need to be able to talk to your customer about every single aspect of what is happening in their world," he added.

With National Waiter Day aiming to change perceptions and encourage people to consider jobs in the industry, we asked Paulo for his top tips for success as a front-of-house professional:

  • Develop an attention to detail - my wife calls me Jason Bourne because I notice everything! Every little part of service is important and needs to be done well.
  • Consider the restaurant environment - the position of the tables and chairs and the brightness and direction of the lights can affect how comfortable a diner is.
  • Know your guests - be aware of regular diners who are returning so you can give them a special experience and remember people's preferences - they will have a much better experience in your restaurant.
  • Read your guests - I read someone's handshake and smile. If a diner is clearly in a rush accommodate his or her needs and amend your service accordingly. 

What is your business doing to celebrate National Waiters Day? Let us know by leaving a comment below and don't forget to check back on site later in the week for our round-up of events.

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1 comment

National Waiters Day

Posted by Shelby King,

The Bristol Hotel celebrated the first ever National Waiter’s Day by hosting a pop up Restaurant in the Shore Café Bar serviced by hospitality students from City of Bristol College.

The day started early for the front of house students as they arrived at The Bristol Hotel and spent time working in the restaurant, bar and meeting and events centre shadowing the departmental managers and supervisors in their roles, before opening the Shore Café Bar for lunch at 12’O’Clock. In the mean time two apprentice chefs and Adrian Kirikmaa, chef lecturer of City of Bristol College went straight to work in the kitchen to start prepping the menu.

Kristof, the Restaurant Manager/tutor from the City of Bristol College also had a 'back to the floor' day as he worked along side the students to serve the team members of the Bristol Hotel and guests from The Chef’s Forum.

The students served a complimentary two course lunch provided by the Bristol Hotel. The Diner’s enjoyed the June sun and dined Alfresco on the Dock of the Bristol Floating Harbour.

£100 was raised for Springboard Charity through diner’s donations.

After lunch the fun really began for the students as they were challenged to take on the managers to a skills test. “Carrying a tray of 3 full pints of water the length of the River Grille Restaurant and back,” the person will spills the least amount of water wins the race. Mark Payne, General Manager of the Bristol Hotel had to be first!

Mark Payne took time to present to the students the key points of delivering excellent service in the hospitality industry and the behaviours and skills we recruit for to join the team at The Bristol Hotel. It is important within the Doyle Collection that the team reflect our Brand values of Belonging, Personal and Generosity, because every guest is unique, we create individual moments of warmth and acknowledgement.

To conclude the student’s day at The Bristol Hotel, we called upon Barcode training provider to deliver a cocktail training workshop for the students to get involved and make their own non alcoholic cocktails.

The students, lecturers, guests, team members and management at The Bristol Hotel are all Proud to be Part of the First National Waiter’s Day. I think we filled the brief!

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